MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A convicted child killer who raped and murdered his sister when he was only 14-years old has taken the stand during his re-sentencing hearing.
Ronald Salazar, 24, was originally sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted in the death of his sister, 11-year-old Marina.
Salazar strangled, raped her and then slashed her throat from ear to ear in July 2005, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. Marina was only 11-years old.
Salazar’s life sentence, however, was reversed after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in which it banned life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles convicted of murder.
On the stand Monday, Salazar testified before Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer about how his parents came to the U.S. from El Salvador in 1991, but left him behind because he was too young to make the overland crossing, according to the Miami Herald. He was left with his grandparents who he originally thought were his parents.
Salazar testified that he’s not the monster he was when he killed his sister, that if he is released, he would return to El Salvador to care for his aging grandmother.
He said when he came to Miami and met his parents for the first time, “We hugged, we embraced, it was amazing.”
But things soon went south.
“When they went to work I had to stay locked in the house,” he said. “My dad went rough on me. Our relationship was never good.”
He said he became resentful of being shunned in favor of siblings born after his parents had left him. He grew angry that he had been permitted to go so long without even knowing his parents existed.
“They wouldn’t tell me the reason why they left me, why they did not contact me come.”
Salazar said his mind began to spiral out of control and he thought of murdering his family.
“I started dreaming and thinking about hurting them all,” he said.
He said he was suicidal for a long time after murdering his sister, but is no longer.
“That wasn’t going to make the situation any better,” Salazar said before he broke down crying.
In jail, Salazar was reportedly given psychotropic drugs and put on suicide watch. He said he still wanted to kill his parents and the rest of the family.
Salazar, on the stand, recounted growing up in El Salvador, thinking his grandparents were his parents.
Salazar testified that he was physically and sexually abused in El Salvador. He added that his grandmother, who died, was the only person to show him what love was.
Salazar said he didn’t learn he had parents in the U.S. until after his grandmother died. He said never got as much as a letter or phone call from them until he was over 10. Salazar’s grandfather testified that when his grandson joined his parents in the U.S. a decade after they had left him behind, they were virtual strangers to him.
In reuniting with his parents, Salazar told the judge about the arduous journey from El Salvador, sometimes being forced to hide in car trunks. When he finally arrived, he said they refused to “embrace” pain of his childhood and claimed their life was rougher.
Salazar said he felt shunned in favor of other siblings his parents had after he was born. He admitted he had sexual relations with a younger sister, who he had never known and viewed as a stranger. Salazar said the Department of Children and Families was called in after someone learned of the sex, but they never followed up and he never got any therapy.
During his trial, Salazar claimed he killed his sister after he suffered a mental breakdown rooted in his parental abandonment, according to the Miami Herald.
When the third day of the sentencing hearing wraps up, Judge Venzer will have to decide if Salazar should be given a sentence less than life or a life sentence with a chance for parole in 25 years.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.