SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A Placentia man said he takes full responsibility for the brutal murder of a 20-year-old Cal State Fullerton student he had been dating before being sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.
Samuel Agustin Lopez, now 43, was convicted March 3 of the 1994 stabbing death of Cathy Torrez.
In court Friday, Lopez apologized to Torrez's family and his attorney said he would not appeal the conviction.
"This was a horrible act that never should have happened," Lopez said. "It is entirely my fault, I take full responsibility. I am truly, truly sorry.
"Everything they said about Cathy was the truth -- she was a wonderful person. She had a beautiful, promising future, full of life, and I took everything away from her."
Lew Rosenblum had argued during the trial that his client had alibi witnesses accounting for his movements the night prosecutors said she was killed, and also argued there was no DNA or fingerprint evidence tying him to the crime.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy argued that Lopez killed his on-again, off-again girlfriend on Feb. 12, 1994, after she rejected his proposal to elope.
A now-retired Orange County forensic scientist testified that the victim was still alive when she was forced into the trunk of her car, where her body was found a week later in Placentia.
Torrez had been stabbed 74 times in the neck, upper chest, head, chin, forearm, back and right thigh and suffered cuts to her hands. She had gone missing after leaving work for a date with Lopez, and her siblings testified that they became alarmed at his apparent indifference at their sister's disappearance.
Lopez's cousin, Xavier "Javier" Lopez, is awaiting trial for murder in connection with Torrez's death, but prosecutors are expected to work out a plea deal with him.
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