A 22-year-old Glendale man was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for beating to death a 98-year-old woman during a burglary at her home in August, 1984.
Joseph John Reyes Jr. received the maximum possible sentence Monday for the fatal beating of Edna McFarland of Glendale. Reyes was convicted by a jury last August of first-degree murder and stealing government-issued butter and cheese from McFarland's refrigerator.
Pasadena Superior Court Judge Jack B. Tso said the "absolute brutal nature" of McFarland's death was among the issues he considered in determining the sentence. Reyes had maintained his innocence, telling the court, "If I wanted to kill somebody, I ain't going to kill an old lady."
Defense attorney Philip A. Center on Friday requested a new trial based on claims from relatives and friends of Reyes that the defendant's uncle and a woman had killed McFarland.
The uncle, Joe Sepulveda, a heroin addict, died Oct. 4, 1985. Mary Carrillo, Sepulveda's girlfriend, had testified against Reyes.
When asked by Deputy Dist. Atty. Donald A. Musich why he did not pin the blame on his uncle during the trial, Reyes answered: "Because I'm not a rat. My uncle Joe used to come to County Jail and bring me money. He'd say, 'Just stay down. Don't rat. As soon as I take care of a few things I'll confess.' "
But Musich told the court: "It was wishful thinking . . . to pin it on a dead man."
Tso agreed. "I simply cannot accept this. It's simply not believeable." Tso also rejected a request by the defense attorney to reduce the sentence to life in prison with possibility of parole. Reyes' sentence for burglary was stayed because of the life term for murder.
During the attack, McFarland suffered 25 blows to the head with a fist or blunt object, according to the county coroner. She died the next day at Glendale Memorial Hospital.