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Man gets 47 years to life for killing woman, pushing her from car

Before Juan Diego Valencia was sentenced to prison, his victim's mother said he often seemed to be 'laughing at our suffering.'

October 30, 2013|By Jill Cowan
  • Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators at the scene where Selene Mayoral's body was found in 2012.
Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators at the scene where Selene… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)

Selene Mayoral thought she had "met such a good man." At least, that's what she told her mother.

She had recently completed a stint in rehab and found a steady job at an electronics manufacturer, where she met Juan Diego Valencia.

But Mayoral's mother said in a statement Wednesday that her daughter was duped by her co-worker.

"This man, whom my daughter thought was so good ... destroyed our family," she told a judge.

Valencia, 31, was convicted earlier this month of shooting Mayoral in the head and then pushing her body from a car during a police chase. In the statement, read prior to Valencia's sentencing, Graciela Mayoral said her daughter's killer often grinned in court "as if he were laughing at our suffering."

Valencia was sentenced to 47 years to life in prison.

The callousness Valencia showed that September night last year led Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kelvin Filer to "max out" the sentence, Deputy Dist. Atty. Tony Aguilar said.

Throughout the evening she was killed, Mayoral had called and texted her mother, Aguilar said during the trial. She asked her mother to pick her up. The 24-year-old said she didn't want to hang out with Valencia anymore. She told her mother he wouldn't let her leave, Aguilar said.

Hours later, Mayoral called her mother to say she didn't want to be picked up after all. Her mother testified she heard her daughter go quiet and then scream before the call ended.

The statement, which was also signed by Mayoral's father, described the anxiety Graciela Mayoral felt as she tried in vain to find her daughter after that phone call.

"It is difficult to live knowing that she was so afraid," the mother wrote. "I also ask myself everyday: What dehumanized this man?"

Aguilar said that on the day Mayoral was killed she and Valencia had been using meth. He said Valencia held Mayoral captive that afternoon, beating her.

Later, Aguilar said, a routine traffic stop turned violent when Valencia — still high on meth — shot Mayoral, then sped off. He paused at an intersection long enough to push her body from the green Mercury Cougar he was driving, authorities said.

Jurors in the Compton courtroom watched a graphic video shot by a bystander of Mayoral's limp body tumbling from the car. A trail of lights and sirens follows the vehicle.

Valencia led authorities to his apartment in Hawthorne, where he was arrested.

Valencia's attorney, Francine Logan, argued that Mayoral's death was an accident — that when her client was pulled over, he had fumbled with a gun in his waistband, and it had gone off.

"What really happened in that car — that's what's at issue," she said during closing statements.

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