UPPER MARLBORO — Erwin Lorenzo Sanchez was sentenced to 40 years in prison during a hearing on Oct. 17 for stabbing his wife to death.
The crime occurred on Jan. 1, 2018, when Sanchez and his wife, Lisbet Mendez Garcia, were at a party. The couple got into a fight because Sanchez believed she was involved with another man. The conflict later escalated back at their apartment in Brentwood, where Sanchez repeatedly stabbed Garcia to death.
Police responded to a call at approximately 8:09 a.m., where they found Garcia lying on the ground with multiple stab wounds to her torso. Sanchez, covered in her blood, admitted to the crime.
Emergency officials transported Garcia to Prince George’s Hospital Center, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy conducted on Jan. 2, 2018 concluded that Garcia was stabbed a total of 70 times and ruled the crime a homicide.
During the hearing on Oct. 17, Sanchez said he does not remember the event entirely but admitted that he was responsible for the murder.
State prosecutors arranged a plea deal for Sanchez, 26, which his lawyers and Sanchez agreed to enter. The plea deal calls for a 40-year prison sentence without parole for second-degree murder. Additionally, Sanchez must submit to a DNA test with the crime ruled as domestically related.
Judge Nicholas Rattal went over the details of the plea deal with Sanchez, who responded through an interpreter. Sanchez said that he went over the charges with his attorney and was ready to accept the 40-year sentence.
Sanchez had the right to plead not guilty and to have either a trial by jury or judge, Rattal told him during the hearing. By taking the plea deal, Sanchez waived his right to a trial and the right to have witnesses testify and challenge the indictment. Sanchez told the judge he would instead continue with the plea deal.
The judge agreed to move forward with the plea deal, saying it is fair in this case.
The “charge is horrific,” Rattal said, adding that any murder is a tragedy, but people experience less pain when they die quickly. To incur that many stab wounds and to bleed out is a “most horrible way to die.”
He gave Sanchez credit for the one year and 289 days he had already served since the crime took place. Also, since Sanchez was not born in the U.S., the Department of Justice can take action and have him removed from the country after his sentence, Rattal said.
“As a judge, we make a lot of big, hard decisions,” Rattal said. “Some will be right; some will be wrong.” In those decisions, they hope to be just and make things right, he said, which is easier in some cases, but in the case of murder, there is “no way to make it right.”
State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy echoed Rattal’s sentiments that there is no way to truly make the situation right as “this concludes the case, but not the pain or suffering.”
“While we are pleased with the sentence imposed today, we remain heartbroken for the family of Lisbet Mendez Garcia,” said Braveboy. “This case is tragic.”
Sanchez’s case is especially poignant as his sentencing took place in the middle of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Braveboy, a major advocate against domestic violence, held her Not One Campaigns Against Domestic Violence weeks ago on Oct. 2. There she brought together members of the community for a panel discussion featuring survivors of domestic violence and allowed those in attendance to share their stories and come up with solutions to end domestic violence in the county.
She has also been advocating for state legislation that would make strangulation, currently classified as a misdemeanor, a crime that would carry 25 years in prison. Also, as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Office of the Sheriff held its Purple Light Nights ceremony, where residents were encouraged to light purple light bulbs in solidarity with victims and survivors.
With Sanchez being the latest perpetrator of domestic violence sentenced in Prince George’s County, Braveboy urged anyone who is a victim to come forward and take advantage of the services offered by the county and its partnering organizations such as the Family Justice Center.
She also emphasized that domestic violence does not only occur between intimate partners. According to her, 12 of the homicides solved by the State’s Attorney’s Office have been domestic with crimes occurring between siblings or children against their parents.
“We urge victims of domestic violence to come forward so that we can seek justice for them,” Braveboy said. “It is especially important as we continue to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month that we emphasize the fact that we will do everything in our power to support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and hold their abusers accountable.”