A State Supreme Court judge sentenced 27-year-old Paul Cortez to 25 years to life in prison. Cortez had been found guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend Catherine Woods last month.
His defense team continued to maintain that Cortez was innocent and asked for a lesser sentence. Cortez was silent during the sentencing, apparently based on advice from his appeals lawyer. His trial lawyer Dawn Florio said, "He would like the family to know he did not kill Catherine Woods, and he is very sorry for their loss."
However, Woods' father Jon said, "He is a murderer, deserving nothing less than life in prison. Catherine did not only lose her life, she was robbed of her dignity. Our family's only consolation is the fact that we knew the real Catherine. Our hearts will never be the same." Judge Carol Berkman said she felt bad for Cortez's family, but "The evidence establishes that he is the author of his own tragedy," in a possible reference to Cortez's extensive diaries.
The NY Times reports that Cortez's appeal will "focus on issues of fairness at the trial, including the lack of testing of hair, some with roots attached, that were found tangled in Ms. Woods’s hand after her death." Lawyer Nathan Deshowitz said, "have never heard of a murder case where the victim has hair in her hand and they don’t test it." Additionally, all the papers noted that Cortez, whose long wavy hair during the trial, had cut his hair into a buzzcut for prison yesterday.
Gothamist on the Cortez murder trial.