SALT LAKE CITY — Miguel Mateos-Martinez, who murdered Faviola Hernandez during a robbery at her Glendale neighborhood salon in 2007, apologized to the woman's family Tuesday.
But neither they nor 3rd District Judge Deno Himonas believed him.
"Your words of remorse just ring hollow," Himonas said. "Too little, too late."
The judge sentenced the admitted gang member to a life term without the possibility of parole.
Mateos-Martinez, who fled to Mexico for more than a year after the shooting, looked on with little apparent emotion as Hernandez's younger sister, who was a witness to the murder, and her mother asked for the maximum sentence.
"The hole you put us in, we're never going to come out. You buried this family," the victim's mother, Rosa Hernandez, told him. "We're never going to forgive you. ... You are a monster."
In February, a jury convicted Mateos-Martinez of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated assault in the Aug. 15, 2007, robbery and shooting.
Both a woman who was in the getaway car and a former jail inmate testified that Mateos-Martinez admitted shooting the shop owner.
Mateos-Martinez opened fire on Hernandez after she went into an adjacent room and returned with a small handgun instead of money. Two witnesses — a client and Hernandez's sister — identified Mateos-Martinez soon after the shooting and in court as the robber who fired a single shot into her chest.
"Stuff went wrong and that really wasn't my intention," he said in court Tuesday. "I thought I was just going to go get the money and that was that."
His attorney, Ralph Dellapiana, argued for the minimum sentence of 20 years to life in prison, saying his young age, limited criminal history and lack of intent to commit the murder should be mitigating factors.
Dellapiana said an older cousin of Mateos-Martinez led him into gang life at an early age. "A 12-year-old doesn't go out looking for a gang to join."
The attorney said Mateos-Martinez, 23, may not have expressed remorse before because he was considering an appeal or feared retaliation in prison from inmates who know the Hernandez family.
But prosecutor Patricia Cassell said he had bragged in jail about committing the crime, and that his "complete lack of remorse" argued for the harshest sentence.
Mateos-Martinez asked the judge in vain to give him hope he would one day get out of prison, promising he would try to leave the gang behind.
"I've been living life like this a very long time," he said. "It's not that I'm proud of it. It's all I know."
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