An imprisoned man returned to a Miami courthouse for resentencing on Monday after serving 10 years in jail for the rape and murder of his then 11-year-old sister.
Ronald Salazar, 24, went before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer to plead for a reduced sentence in light of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which states that a minor convicted of murder cannot automatically receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. According to the new rule, judges must decide the sentence of a minor on a case-by-case basis.
Salazar is the first person in Miami-Dade County to go before a judge for a new sentence under the 2012 Supreme Court ruling.
“I so thought that me dying in prison was the right punishment,” Salazar said during his testimony.
In 2009, a Miami jury sentenced Salazar to a life sentence without the possibility of parole for raping and killing his younger sister, Marina ‘Estefani’ Salazar, by cutting her throat from ear-to-ear in 2005.
Prosecutors in the case argued Salazar killed his sister because he wanted to punish his parents for leaving him in El Salvador when they left for the United States in 1991.
According to court records, Salazar tried to deflect guilt by cleaning the knife and telling police strange men came into the house and killed Marina.
The jury in his original trial spent only two hours deliberating before convicting Salazar of murder. Prosecutors presented the jury with DNA evidence linking Salazar to the crime as well as a taped confession.
Salazar confessed to the crime, but said he did not know what he was doing at the time because he was suffering a mental breakdown.
“I don’t want to spend the rest of my years in prison,” Salazar said during his resentencing hearing. “I don’t want to die in prison.”
The re-sentencing trial continued Tuesday.