A judge Wednesday sentenced a 20-year-old man to life in prison for the murder of a 93-year-old Omaha woman last summer. A plea deal removed the chance Sergio Perez could receive the death penalty for killing Louise Sollowin.
Perez was in the country illegally for less than two months working as a roofer when he beat and sexually assaulted Sollowin in her bedroom last July. She died in the hospital three days later. An autopsy showed Louise suffered blunt force injuries with numerous broken bones in her face.
Sexual assault and burglary charges were later dismissed.
Louise Sollowin was a professional seamstress and baker at Orsi’s, the family business. Her son described her as a vibrant woman who, even at the age of 93, didn't need a walker or a cane.
While the family has been focused on remembering how she lived rather than how her life ended, many had to sit through it one last time as Perez faced sentencing on Wednesday.
Sollowin’s nephew Don Bonfiglio said, "This is something that went quick. He didn't deny it."
The victim’s family listened as prosecutors went step-by-step over the evidence in the case. Perez randomly chose the home of Louise Sollowin. He was found passed out on top her in her bedroom the next morning. He had beaten her death.
The family has been clear on its intentions since the beginning.
Last August, Louise's son Joe said, “I hope he gets the electric chair. And I want to be there for that. I hope he gets a beating way before that. I don't think dying is enough."
But in return for a guilty plea, prosecutors dropped the death penalty citing, among other things, the uphill battle within the courts these days to ultimately get the death penalty considering the age of the assailant. Perez was 19 at that time.
In accepting the life sentence, some family acknowledged that Nebraska hasn't used the death penalty in 17-years and without any chance at parole they won't have to relive the gruesome details every few years in front of the parole board or on appeal.
Bonfiglio said, “I can't do anything about it now. He's going to spend the rest of his life in prison now."
Sergio Perez barely looked up during the plea and sentencing where it was revealed that he had the equivalent of a 5th or 6th grade education.
Judge Burns gave his condolences to the victim's family Wednesday saying, "It was beyond belief what she had to endure."