Life sentence for York man who fatally stabbed pregnant girlfriend
As Olga Vascones-Garcia's life slipped away from her, as the pregnant murder victim's blood flowed onto the floor of a Manchester Township motel lobby, her last thoughts were for her little girl.
Olga put her arm around her 5-year-old daughter and tried to comfort the girl. That last act of love was caught on security video at the Super 8 motel, where Olga was fatally stabbed by boyfriend Wilkins Marte-Escano on March 29, 2012 — in front of their daughter.
Now 9, the child needed comfort again Wednesday afternoon as she sat in York County Court and listened as her father admitted to fatally stabbing her mother.
Surrounded by aunts, uncles, her grandmother and other family members, she clutched a large Minnie Mouse stuffed animal and cried silently.
"Now she doesn't have her mom or her dad," Ingrid Gomez, one of Olga's sisters, told presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner. "She has her family, but it's not the same thing."
That Olga, 24, would focus on her child instead of herself did not come as a surprise to her heartbroken loved ones. Their statements about her in court Wednesday showed Olga was the nucleus of their close-knit family — always remembering birthdays, caring for those who were sick and helping to cook family meals.
'Days of trouble': Marte-Escano, 32, formerly of York City, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and third-degree murder of an unborn child in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was given 20 to 40 years in prison for the charge of murder of an unborn child; that sentence runs concurrently to the life sentence. He also was ordered to pay $9,970 in restitution for Olga's funeral services and headstone.
The negotiated guilty plea allowed him to avoid a possible death sentence if found guilty of first-degree murder at trial, which had been set to begin March 14.
He told the judge he was having a "difficult" time in the days leading up to Olga's slaying.
He had been fighting with her over the paternity of her fetus, according to Northern York County Regional Police, who said she was 19½ weeks pregnant with their son. A DNA test confirmed Marte-Escano was the father, chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker said.
"I would like to apologize ... to everybody in this courtroom," the murderer said. "I regret what I did and I ask for forgiveness."
Marte-Escano said that around the time of the murders, he was having "a lot of days of trouble."
What happened: He stabbed Olga in the chest inside Room 227 of the Super 8, police have said.
After being stabbed the first time, she and their daughter ran to the motel lobby. But Olga fled outside as Marte-Escano approached, knife in hand, police said. He followed her outside and stabbed her again in the chest as their daughter watched from a lobby window.
Olga returned to the lobby, where she staggered and collapsed. Marte-Escano — a native of the Dominican Republic — can be seen wiping the bloody knife on his pants and fleeing, police said.
The couple rented the motel room after moving out of their former home on South Court Avenue, according to police.
A mother's heart: Olga's mother, Rafaela Garcia, said she's had no peace since her daughter's murder.
"She was my youngest child and I adored her so much," she said through a translator. "(This) has destroyed my entire life. ... When a child gets murdered, a mother's heart also gets murdered."
Ingrid Gomez described her slain sister as the center of their tight-knit family.
"My sister is with her baby, resting," Gomez said. "He was the nephew we were all waiting for."
'You have to pay': Gomez said she forgives Marte-Escano, who was welcomed into their family with open arms and known to them as Gerald, his middle name. Still, there must be repercussions, she said through a translator.
"You have to pay," Gomez told him. "Why did you do this? I don't know."
"Our lives were destroyed," said Nelson German, Olga's brother. "We've not had peace since this occurred."
Ron Jackson Jr. and Suzanne Smith, Marte-Escano's attorneys, said he truly is remorseful and became choked up by the end of the court proceeding.
The Minnie Mouse that Olga's daughter clutched in court was given to her by Barker, the prosecutor, who said he hoped it would provide her some comfort during the hearing.
"It's important for child victims to have something (to hold onto) for support," he said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.