A Monterey County judge has sentenced a man to life in prison for a murder he committed three and a half decades ago. The sentencing of Louis Augustine Salazar, 57, of Aromas follows his conviction on Feb. 23 for bludgeoning 86-year-old Teressie White to death on the evening of April 21, 1977, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.
Judge Mark Hood, who heard the case, read the sentence after denying a motion to dismiss and a new trial motion filed on Salazar’s behalf, according to the district attorney’s office. In his early 20s when he murdered White in her bed, Salazar would probably never have been convicted without DNA technology, district attorney’s officials said.
In 1977, police knew that Salazar had been near the scene of the crime around the time White was murdered and had even found a small bag of marijuana at the crime scene matching one that Salazar mentioned he was carrying that night, district attorney’s officials said. But the case went nowhere for years until Sheriff’s Detective Martin Opseth was assigned the case in late 2006, district attorney’s officials said. DNA samples from Mrs. White’s fingernails and bathrobe were sent to the Department of Justice Crime Lab, where a DNA test showed that the evidence matched Salazar’s DNA, according to the district attorney’s office. During the trial, a Department of Justice criminalist testified that the probability of another Hispanic male having the same DNA profile as Salazar was 1 in 1.3 trillion, the district attorney’s office said.
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