MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A man convicted of murdering his newlywed wife so he could collect on a one million dollar life insurance policy has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility parole.
In April, a jury found 42-year old Michel Escoto guilty of first degree murder in the 2002 death Wendy Trapaga, his wife of four days.
At the opening of the proceeding, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez denied a motion for re-trial.
In her remarks to the court, prosecutor Gail Levine said “Wendy’s life was short but her road to justice was long.”
A number of Trapaga’s family members also addressed the court. Trapaga’s mother wept as she recalled promising her murdered daughter that she would not rest until justice was done.
“Michel Escoto you destroyed my life,” Myriam Benitez said, choking back tears. “Many of you have daughters and sons and they will give you kisses this Mother’s Day. I will have to go to put flowers on my daughter’s tomb. She didn’t deserve this.”
Other family members chose not to address Escoto.
“My statement is to be directed to the court and not directed to the evil monster that has justly been found guilty of the brutal act he committed to a beautiful soul,” said Trapaga’s sister Rita Stephen.
Trapaga’s family remembered her as a vision of innocence victimized by a man they called a monster who they referred to as ‘it’.
“I doubt that any of us suspected at the tender age of 21 our little Wendy would lie brutally slain at the hands of her so-called husband,” said Wendy’s sister Victoria Trapaga.
Escoto also addressed the court. He made no apology to the family and called his trial a circus.
During the trial Escoto’s girlfriend, Yolanda Cerillo, testified that he planned to drug his newlywed bride, making it look like an accidental overdose and drown her in a Jacuzzi.
The plot was a botched however, she awoke in the water and began to struggle.
Cerrillo testified that Escoto drove his semi-conscious wife to her house, and the two went to the warehouse district where Trapaga was beat her with a tire iron and strangled her. She said she did not witness the actual murder.
Cerillo was given immunity for her testimony.