on July 16, 2014 - 10:28 AM
, updated July 16, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Primitivo Cruz, convicted of the grisly 2013 murder of his mother inside her West Seneca home, read a combative and rambling handwritten letter at his sentencing Wednesday, denying that he had anything to do with the crime and accusing prosecutors, the police and the judge of conspiring against him.
Cruz spoke for about 15 minutes and then interrupted State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang during remarks she gave prior to sentencing him to 25 years to life in state prison for the May 3, 2013, slaying of Carol Quinn.
“You strangled her. You struck her multiple times ... You inflicted a total of 19 blunt force injuries,” Wolfgang said. “You, Mr. Cruz, did this.”
Cruz, 46, shook his head and shot back with another denial: “No, I didn’t.”
Wolfgang then asked rhetorically who would want to come into her courtroom and admit that he committed such a heinous crime.
“You are going to suffer the consequences of your own actions,” she added.
A jury convicted Cruz in May of second-degree murder in the strangling, beating and stabbing of Quinn, who prosecutors said had been trying to get her alcoholic, unemployed son to move out of her Burch Avenue apartment.
The verdict came more than four months after another jury deadlocked, 11-1, for conviction on its fourth day of deliberations, resulting in a mistrial.
The jury in the retrial deliberated about three hours.
The defendant, who did not testify at his first trial, took the stand during the retrial, denying that he had killed his 77-year-old mother in the living room where police found her body the next day, under an overturned recliner.
He maintained his innocence again at sentencing, even after his brother, David Quinn, urged Wolfgang to deliver a harsh sentence.
David Quinn told the judge he struggled to comprehend how the same brother he had grown up with could be responsible for killing the woman who had given him life.
“My mother was beaten, strangled and stabbed by a person she should have been able to count on to keep her safe,” he said in a tearful address to the court.
“I have to ask this court for something I never thought I would have to, and that is to make sure my own brother gets punished for what he did to my mother.”
Carol Quinn was killed about a week after police charged Cruz with harassment for pushing her into a door during an argument over her demand that he move out, prosecutors said.
The morning of the slaying, Quinn called the West Seneca Town Court clerk and asked to drop an order of protection a judge had signed against Cruz after the pushing incident but was told she couldn’t do it over the phone.
Homicide prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable told the jury in her summation that Cruz attacked his mother sometime after that call.
She said he strangled Quinn, breaking the bones in her neck; beat her with an angel figurine lamp from a table next to her recliner, breaking her nose and causing brain bleeding; and stabbed her multiple times in the neck before slashing her lower back.
“I’m not the monster that did this,” Cruz said in his statement. “I stand here today and say I am innocent.”
Cruz later said that he loves his mother and “still can’t believe she’s gone.”
He also said he did not get a fair trial.
“To my family, I can’t stress enough how I could not have done this,” he said.
Wolfgang reminded Cruz that a total of 23 jurors who heard the case found him guilty.
Cruz’s attorney, Frank Bogulski, said he will appeal the conviction.
Outside the courtroom, David Quinn didn’t give much credence to Cruz’s remarks.
“He’s a desperate person. That’s really all it was – desperation,” he said.