MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami man who was originally sentenced to life in prison for raping and murdering his sister has been given a second chance.
On Friday, Circuit judge Ellen Sue Venzer, the same judge who originally sentenced Ronald Salazar to a life term, reduced his sentence to ’40’ years and ordered that in ’25’ years he be given a hearing to determine if he has been rehabilitated enough to go free.
Since Salazar has served ten years, it means that hearing will happen in just 15 years.
Salazar who was 14-years old when he raped and murdered his 11 year old sister at their Miami Heights home broke down in tears after hearing his new sentence.
Afterwards, he thanked the judge for her compassion.
Salazar’s life sentence 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.
The decision still allowed for a young defendant to get life in prison, but a judge must first hear evidence of the killer’s youth.
During a five day hearing last month, the judge heard from Salazar about his troubled childhood in El Salvador.
As a baby, his parents abandoned him to a life of poverty and moved to America.
He was left with grandparents and then physically and sexually abused as a child.
When he was ten, Salazar was re-united with his family in Miami. By then his parents had had two other children and he described being rejected by them again.
“When they went to work I had to stay locked in the house. They wouldn’t tell me why they left me. Why they didn’t contact me.”
“I started dreaming and thinking about hurting them all.”
Judge Venzer noted that “there were red flags” raised repeatedly about Salazar’s unresolved anger and threats of violence when and nothing was done.
She also said that while in prison he has gotten therapy, completed high school and has had few complaints against him.
“It is this court’s belief, people are not born bad,” said the judge.”I hope you continue to get the help you so desperately need.”