Jose Reyes Mejia-Varella was sentenced on Thursday.
Life in prison was the sentence handed down on Thursday to Jose Reyes Mejia-Varella. He pleaded guilty in December, 2012 to 1st-degree murder for the slaying of Jacinta "Patty" Ayala. She was found shot to death inside the Burger King on East Patrick Street in Frederick on the morning of March 18th, 2011. Ayala was the assistant manager of the restaurant, and encountered Mejia-Varella as he was trying to open the safe.
"This is just a tragic, tragic murder. It didn't need to happen," says Frederick County State's Attorney Charlie Smith. "Patty Ayala was just a hard working woman who had children. She was trying to put food on the table. It was a senseless murder. That's the problem. He could have taken the money and left. He didn't. He chose to shoot her execution style in the back of the head."
Smith says Ayala's family members were in the courtroom on Thursday. They presented written statements, describing how this murder affected them, and will continue to affect them for the rest of their lives.
Mejia-Varella also made a short statement in court, according to Smith. He expressed sorrow for what he did, and asked Ayala's family for forgiveness.
Mejia-Varella had been deported from the US in 2009, but had re-entered the country, and was here illegally when he shot Ayala.
Smith says the state is satisfied with the sentence. "Quite frankly, I would have like to have seen it be a death penalty case. But given the evidence that we had and given the law in the state of Maryland, it wasn't. In any event, he got life in prison, and, hopefully, the governor will never parole him."
The Maryland General Assembly this year approved legislation repealing the state's death penalty.