A Riverhead man was sentenced Tuesday to the maximum 25 years to life for strangling a fellow Guatemalan immigrant outside a bar in 2012.
Guillermo Alvarado Ajcuc, 23, asked the victim's family for forgiveness, saying he wasn't fully aware of what he was doing.
But relatives of Mirian Yohanna Garcia Mansilla said the slaying shattered their lives.
"I feel very sad and at the same time happy," Garcia's mother, Marta Mansilla, said in Spanish after the sentencing. "I know she is celebrating above with God because justice has been done."
In court, she said: "These last two years have lasted an eternity and changed my life. She was a person who didn't deserve this. She was a very good person. She would help out anyone who needed help."
Garcia's sister, Zully Garcia, 30, said Alvarado "deserves to suffer. My heart is broken, but not for him, for his family."
Alvarado told the victim's family in court "it wasn't my intention" to kill Garcia, 29.
"I would like to ask the family to forgive me, specifically the mother," he said in Spanish.
Suffolk County Court Judge John Toomey Jr. imposed the maximum sentence, for second-degree murder, citing the coldbloodedness of the attack. Toomey said Alvarado had to remove a belt from his pants, place it around Garcia's neck, and hold it there for a "relatively long period of time."
Garcia, the judge said, "did not deserve to die like that."
Garcia and Alvarado encountered each other at El Sabor Latino the night of May 6, 2012, according to testimony during the trial. When Garcia was thrown out of the Riverhead bar because she was drunk, Alvarado followed her into the parking lot.
There, in bushes behind the building, he attacked her, pulling off some of her clothing and raping her, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock told jurors.
Garcia, described by relatives as athletic, fought back, but was overcome, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Eileen Powers argued during the trial that the prosecution's case rested mainly on a taped confession by Alvarado, who left no DNA evidence on Garcia's body.
Tuesday, Powers said in court that Alvarado was so intoxicated during the encounter that he had only a vague recollection of it.
She did not comment after the sentencing.
A jury convicted Alvarado on May 30. The trial was the first in Suffolk County in which jurors saw a videotaped interrogation by police of a suspect. In it, Alvarado quickly admitted what he had done and how he did it.