A Suffolk judge gave the maximum prison sentence to a Port Jefferson Station man Monday, telling the defendant that his story of mutilating a Medford woman's body, dumping it in Connecticut and setting it on fire -- all because of her accidental death -- "makes no sense."
Although Evans Ganthier, 33, told police that Rebecca Koster, 24, died after tripping over dumbbells in his garage on Dec. 4, 2009, a jury convicted him in August of second-degree murder, finding that he stabbed her to death after meeting her hours earlier in a Holbrook bar.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro imposed a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Ambro told Ganthier that his "unthinkably cruel" behavior after Koster's death "lends strong support to the idea that her death was not an accident. . . . Neither I nor the jury believes you."
Ganthier told police that after Koster died, he cut off her fingers, toes, nose, ears and tattoos before taking her body to Connecticut. He denied killing her and said he only wanted to hide her identity.
Then, when he realized he was the last person in contact with Koster, he told police he used her phone to text her mother, posing as the victim, and claiming to be alive and held captive in her boyfriend's basement.
Koster's mother, Barbara Ross, told Ambro her life will never be the same.
"I cry every day for my daughter, sometimes for hours at a time," she said. Turning to Ganthier, with a voice hardened by anger, she continued, "I had to hear how you destroyed my Becky. No mother should ever see her daughter like that. . . . I hate you. I hate you with every cell of my being. I hope that everything you did to Becky is done to you."
Koster's stepfather, Larry Ross, told Ambro he was struck during the trial by Ganthier's behavior.
"His lack of remorse and indifferent attitude -- the attitude he has shown through the entire ordeal -- is unacceptable, unforgivable and leaves me with no doubts that the next time a pretty girl refuses him, he would have no hesitation in taking their life, just as he took the life of our beautiful Becky," he said.
Ganthier waited impassively for his turn to speak, glancing occasionally at his parents in the back of the courtroom. Ganthier said the evidence that Koster was stabbed was weak.
"I feel the appellate courts will see I am an innocent man," he said. He apologized to Koster's family for their loss.
Afterward, Barbara Ross said the sentencing was "bittersweet."
"The only thing that's going to bring us peace is to know he'll never walk the earth again," she said. "Until we hear he is dead, there is no closure."
Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson dismissed Ganthier's chances for a successful appeal, saying: "That's all silliness. I think the cause of death is clear."