Arsenio Leyva hung his head low as a Monterey County judge announced his fate. The judge sentenced Leyva to 25 years to life in prison for the killing of 14-year-old Christy Piña . Her naked body was found almost 30 years ago in a Castroville artichoke field.
” There were a lot of people involved in this. It wasn’t just a few. There were a lot that fought through the years. I never thought it would happen in my lifetime, ” said the victim’s father, Juan Piña .
For Piña’s father, Leyva’s sentence is the beginning of a new chapter. He took the stand Wednesday morning and thanked the officers that caught his daughter’s killer.
Leyva spent nearly three decades in Mexico before he was arrested and extradited to the United States. ” Having a family, getting married, having children, working. Really, you lived a full life, ” said Judge Carrie M. Panetta while addressing Leyva .
New DNA testing linked Leyva to Piña’s death in 2007. In October, he admitted to Piña’s murder and the attempted kidnapping of another 14-year-old girl.
Attorneys spoke on Leyva’s behalf in court and he apologized for his actions. That apology fell on deaf ears. ” A lot of people say you need to forgive to get closure. No. I will not forgive. I do not accept it. He did what he did. The only reason he apologized is because he got caught, ” said Piña’s father.
Piña’s father has found closure in other ways. He said he visits the juvenile hall to speak for the victims of violent crimes. Wednesday night, he plans to spend time by his daughter’s grave. ” I’m going to tell her. I want to give her the good news. We will start a new chapter in our life, ” said Piña’s father.
The judged added that it is likely that Leyva will not live long enough to explore his option for parole. Leyva will serve his sentence in state prison.