Luis Rodriguez-Flamenco stood to answer Monday to what many Orleans County law enforcers consider the most senseless act of violence they have ever seen – the fatal stabbing of a female shopper in the Walmart parking lot in Albion.
Rodriguez-Flamenco showed no remorse and offered no apologies as he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on the day before the one-year anniversary of the murder.
“What strikes me in this case is the randomness, the senseless violence,” Orleans County District Attorney Joseph V. Cardone said outside the courtroom after the sentence was imposed. “It was a Sunday afternoon at a store people are in and out of all day. No one expects this type of violence. It can’t get any more random or violent. He just ran up and stabbed her.”
The sentence “isn’t justice,” Cardone said, “but it is the best we can do.”
Rodriguez-Flamenco, 24, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, pleaded guilty July 18 to stabbing Kathleen Byham, 45, of Albion, multiple times in an aborted carjacking. Two counts of first-degree robbery and a second count of second-degree murder were dropped as part of the plea, but no sentencing agreements were made on the charge for which he was convicted. That charge carried a minimum of 15 years to life and a maximum of 25 years to life.
Assault charges in an unrelated case from last year in the Village of Medina last year were also dismissed, since he is serving the maximum time on the murder charge.
Byham’s fiancé, Paul Fox, who had been with Byham for 14 years, gave an emotional plea in court, asking for Rodriguez-Flamenco to be made to understand how his actions affected those who knew Byham.
His pleas for remorse seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Rodriguez-Flamenco, who stood with a court-appointed interpreter, was asked by Orleans County Court Judge James Punch if he had anything to say.
Rodriguez-Flamenco shook his head no, then said in English, “Nah, just give me my time.”
He walked out of court with a swagger and a mocking smile on his face, as he passed Fox and others in the courtroom.
Before he left, the judge told him, “This was the most brutal, savage murder I’ve seen in all my time on the bench. It has to be the most profoundly senseless.
“You took the life of an innocent, lovely person. There is no reason you should not get the maximum sentence.”
Byham had gone to Walmart to buy a brick of cheese and a combination pack of lavender-scented bubble bath and lotion. She was headed to her car when Rodriguez-Flamenco and two other men, Jose Torrez-Gonzalez, 28, and Marcos Gomez-Perez, 21, approached her and tried to take her vehicle. Byham was stabbed multiple times by Rodriguez-Flamenco, who then took her keys and fled on foot. He was captured a few hours later, after a massive search.
Torrez-Gonzalez and Gomez-Perez were not indicted, but they were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rodriguez-Flamenco also will face deportation after he has served his time in state prison, the district attorney said.
Fox tried to smile after court as he remembered his fiancée, who had gone back to school after becoming disabled. Three months before she was murdered, she received her doctorate in philosophy from the online Arts Institute of San Francisco and was making a name for herself by selling personalized greeting cards.
“She never hurt anybody,” Fox said outside court. “Someday, [Rodriguez-Flamenco] will feel remorse.”
Fox, who was a court security guard before he also became disabled, said he intends to keep a promise to Byham.
“She made me promise to finish school, which I am doing,” said Fox, who is attending Genesee Community College for a degree in human services and wants to get back to work.
This was the second slaying involving an illegal immigrant in Orleans County last year.
Carlos Cardenas, 22, raped and strangled his 15-year-old sister-in-law Jan. 15, 2011. Cardenas admitted his guilt June 20, pleading to second-degree murder, and in late August he was sentenced to the maximum of 25 years to life.