A Modesto man was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for the strangulation and drowning death of a 24-year-old woman in Livermore 12 years ago.
Bryan Vulgamore, 38, was convicted of second-degree murder on June 5 for the Jan. 8, 2002, death of 24-year-old Cecilia Garcia, a family friend who was found drowned in a running shower at her home in the 600 block of Mayten Drive with her nose smashed and what appeared to be strangulation marks on her neck.
Prosecutor Mark Melton said he believes Vulgamore was on a methamphetamine bender and first strangled Garcia and then pushed her face down into a shower in an attempted to remove DNA evidence.
Melton said it’s unclear if Garcia died from being strangled or from drowning in the shower.
He said if she was still alive after she was strangled, she must have been unconscious because she drowned in only four inches of water, which indicates that she was incapacitated and wasn’t able to get out of the shower.
Vulgamore’s lawyer, Brian Hong, told jurors during the trial that there’s there wasn’t any physical evidence connecting Vulgamore to Garcia’s death because he doesn’t think there’s any proof that Vulgamore strangled her.
Vulgamore wasn’t arrested in connection with Garcia’s death until January 2010, when Livermore police said cellphone records, witness statements and admissions by Vulgamore to police and other witnesses tied him to Garcia’s death.
Garcia’s sister, Monica Leonis, told Vulgamore today that he caused “misery” for Garcia’s many family members and friends by killing her.
Leonis said she hopes Vulgamore “will rot in hell” and she’s happy that he will be serving a long prison sentence.
Garcia’s daughter, Alicia Garcia Cortez, who was 8 years old when Garcia was killed and is now 20, said, “As the years go by I will always cry for my mom. My mom was a beautiful and loving person.”
Melton said, “It’s hard to imagine a more callous killing” but he hopes “some healing can be made because justice has been done in this case.”
Vulgamore didn’t speak at his hearing today and also refused to talk to a probation officer who prepared a sentencing report in the case.
A key witness in the case was Vulgamore’s former friend Tony Gregorio, who Melton said initially gave Vulgamore an alibi but later retracted it and told police that Vulgamore admitted to him that he killed her.
However, Hong said Gregorio doesn’t remember most of what he told police in 2002 since his memory is unreliable because in 2002 he had been taking large quantities of methamphetamine daily for seven years and also used other drugs.
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