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Man Gets Life in Slaying of College Student

July 23, 2002|LAURA LOH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles man convicted in the robbery-murder of a 22-year-old Occidental College art student was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Demetrio Cabrera, 33, expressed sympathy to the mother of victim Wendy Soltero moments before he was sentenced by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Mooney. He insisted that he was innocent of the charges.

Beth Soltero said Cabrera's statement did not seem genuine because he did not include Wendy's father or sister, who also attended the sentencing, in his comments.

Soltero said Cabrera deserved as much prison time as co-defendant Araceli Pena, who shot her daughter in the back of the head as she sat in her car, according to authorities.

Cabrera drove the car he and Pena used to commit an hour-long crime spree in the Hollywood area Oct. 28, 2000, that resulted in Wendy's death, prosecutors said.

"She pulled the trigger, but he could have stopped it at any time," the mother said of the two defendants after the sentencing.

Pena, 20, was sentenced in April to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She and Cabrera were convicted of Soltero's murder and several counts of robbery and attempted robbery.

The pair committed three holdups in less than an hour and were trying a fourth when they were spotted by Los Angeles police officers and arrested, prosecutors said. The crimes netted less than $50.

In the second robbery, Pena and Cabrera pulled up to Soltero's car on Tamarind Avenue and demanded money. Soltero and two female passengers were cooperating when Pena fired a single shot at Soltero, authorities said.

The pair committed two more crimes before they were arrested, 40 minutes after the shooting, prosecutors said.

Beth Soltero said she is relieved that the case is over, but she feels no sense of closure. "The only justice would be for us to get Wendy back, and that's not going to happen," she said.

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