Man gets life sentence in student dragging death

AP News
Posted: Dec 14, 2012 4:16 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — A 22-year-old man convicted of murder in the death of an Arizona State University student who was dragged by a car during a purse snatch was sentenced Friday to life in prison.

Joseluis Marquez cannot seek parole until he serves 25 years for killing 21-year-old Kyleigh Sousa outside a Tempe restaurant, a judge said.

Prosecutors and Sousa's family wanted Marquez to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Edward Bassett said the deep pain suffered by Sousa's family was evident, but he believes Marquez didn't intend to kill the student.

Sousa's family found the sentence disappointing.

"I hope he dies in prison," Sousa's older brother, Bernie Sousa, said outside court.

Kyleigh Sousa, a pre-law student who grew up in Point Pleasant, N.J., was standing outside a restaurant early on the morning of May 26, 2010, when a man in a rented car snatched her purse and drove away.

One of her arms got caught in the purse, and she was dragged about 30 feet. Sousa suffered severe head injuries and was eventually taken off life-support.

Authorities said people in the vehicle at the time of the robbery later identified Marquez as the driver and the person who snatched the purse.

In October, a jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning first-degree murder and robbery convictions against Marquez.

The judge heard from the mothers of Sousa and Marquez before handing down the sentence.

"My family will never be the same. I am broken beyond repair," Sousa's mother, Karen Zitzow-Montenegro said, her voice cracking as she recalled her daughter as her best friend.

Marquez, who declined to make any statements to the judge before the sentencing, looked on without any visible emotion.

His mother, Elizabeth Marquez, told Sousa's mother in court that she was sorry about everything Zitzow-Montenegro has been through, but insisted her son didn't get a fair trial.

"I did not raise a monster," Elizabeth Marquez said.

Marquez's attorney, Carrie Spiller, sought the lesser sentence, saying her client was 20 at the time of the robbery and had no prior felony convictions.

"He is still a very young man who made some poor choices," Spiller said.

Prosecutor John Kalish said Marquez never came forward to investigators to acknowledge his part in death, lied to police officers and tried to silence witnesses.