RIVERSIDE – A jobless illegal immigrant from Guatemala who killed his aunt to steal her assets and obtain the means to impress a teenage love interest was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Adolfo Jose Morales Barahona, 21, was convicted Oct. 11 of first-degree murder, along with special circumstance allegations of killing during the commission of a burglary and during a robbery, in the February, 2011 death of 47-year-old Ilma Saucedo.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz imposed the sentence required by law.
Deputy District Attorney John Aki said Saucedo died because her nephew ”had a lust for money and a girl.”
According to trial testimony, Barahona had been staying at the victim’s Riverside home in the 4200 block of Hale Street in the weeks before her disappearance.
Saucedo owned the single-story residence and rented rooms to two men.
Barahona did not work, living off his aunt’s charity, according to Aki. He said the young man had become obsessed with a 17-year-old Bakersfield girl, Paola, whom he had met via the Internet.
In the week before Saucedo vanished, Paola had indicated she wanted to break up with Barahona, prompting the defendant to vow to see her and provide her with cash and a new mobile phone, Aki said.
He said Saucedo was ”a hoarder of cash” and kept a lot of it on hand, hidden throughout her bedroom.
Aki theorized that Barahona had decided to steal whatever cash he could find while his aunt and her two housemates were at work but that the woman came home early from her dry-cleaning job and surprised him, leading to murder.
Aki argued that ”strong circumstantial evidence” made it clear who was responsible for Saucedo’s disappearance, even though there was no body, fingerprint evidence, DNA, or blood and there were no witnesses.
According to testimony, Barahona took his aunt’s Honda Accord and drove to Bakersfield that weekend with at least $3,000. in his possession to see Paola, checking into a motel room under an assumed name and paying cash for everything.
When Saucedo’s housemates inquired as to her whereabouts, Barahona said that she had gone to Guatemala; but Aki noted that her passport, credit cards and driver’s license had all been left behind.
Barahona’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Greg Roach, said that the prosecution’s case was ”based on a hunch” with no definitive evidence to back it up.
Roach suggested that his client obtained the money through drug dealing.