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Killer gets 5 years to life in prison

Angie Zabriskie never knew her granddaughters. In fact, she had seen the girls, 3 and 4 years old, only once before she was killed in her South Salt Lake apartment last year.

On Monday, Zabriskie's family begged 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton to send Zabriskie's killer, Jose Cruz-Mesa, to prison for the rest of his life.

"I plead with the court that this man never see civilization again," Zabriskie's husband, Farren, said. "This man pursued, tortured and refused to let her live her life. "

Calling the woman's death a "senseless, brutal murder," Atherton sentenced Cruz-Mesa to the maximum term allowed by law: five years to life in the Utah State Prison.

Cruz-Mesa, 26, and Zabriskie, 39, were romantically involved at the time of her death. However, Farren Zabriskie said his wife told him on May 19 that she intended to end the relationship with Cruz-Mesa and work things out with her husband, from whom she was separated.

But the next day, May 20, police responded to Zabriskie's apartment after receiving a call to check on the woman's welfare. Officers found Zabriskie dead with 15 stab wounds to her head, neck, torso and leg, according to court documents. That same day, Cruz-Mesa told a witness he had killed his girlfriend and showed the woman a bloody knife, charges state.

He also told the woman that Zabriskie had threatened him with a gun and he responded with the knife in self defense, deputy district attorney Nick Dalesandro said. "There's really no explanation as to why Jose Cruz-Mesa stabbed Angie Zabriskie," Dalesandro said. "This was nothing more than a vicious killing."

Defense attorneys attempted to introduce Cruz-Mesa's statements to the woman as evidence. However, Atherton ruled they were hearsay and could not be included if the case went to trial.

Cruz-Mesa pleaded guilty to the first-degree felony murder charge in January. In exchange for his guilty plea, Cruz-Mesa reserved the right to appeal Atherton's hearsay decision to the Utah Court of Appeals.


E-mail: awelling@desnews.com