MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A 70-year-old Miami man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to murdering a teen who was found, on fire, next to a dumpster in the city of Sweetwater.
Armando Botell struck a plea deal Thursday with the approval of Romina Fernandez’s parents.
Fernandez was 17 when she was strangled in 2014. Her parents declined to make a statement to the judge.
Homicide investigators told The Miami Herald they were disappointed with the deal.
Botell’s defense said going to trial would have been a risk.
Detectives say Botell had grown fixated on the teen, had given her drugs and had sex with her.
It was Botell’s second prison sentence for murder. He served less than 10 years for the 1980 murder of his girlfriend.
In October 2014, Romina’s body was found next to a dumpster behind a strip mall a few blocks from her home. Just hours before, her parents had reported her missing.
Friends told family that the night she disappeared, Fernandez called them and told them in Spanish she could not be friends with them anymore and she was moving to New York with a man.
Her mother later received a letter in the mail with her daughter’s handwriting, saying “Hola Mami. I’m OK. I’m going to New York with a friend. He bought me food and my medicine. Don’t worry. I’ll call you in a month.”
Romina was suffering from diabetes.
According to Botell’s arrest report, “he had been selling and providing the victim with Xanax and other drugs since the victim was 15-years old.”
A witness told police Botell had become obsessed with the victim and was becoming emotionally distraught.
At the time, police said it was unclear if he may have abducted her or if she went with him on her own free will.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)