A young woman who once faced a potential life prison term for the 2010 stabbing deaths of her grandparents in their Rosemead home was sentenced this week to a juvenile facility until she’s 25 — just under three years.
Sophia Cristo — who was 14 at the time of the crime and turned 22 in May — was initially prosecuted as an adult and convicted in March 2015 of first-degree murder for the Aug. 9, 2010, killings of Jack Bezner, 71, and his 64-year-old wife, Susan.
But a ballot measure approved by California voters resulted in Cristo’s case being sent to a juvenile court judge to determine if her case should be handled there.
She was sentenced this week to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Juvenile Justice Division facility until the age of 25, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Cristo’s then-boyfriend, Roldolfo Lopez, who was 21 at the time of the killings, was tried separately and convicted in December 2016 of two counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced in June 2017 to two consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole.
Deputy District Attorney Scott McPheron told jurors during Lopez’s trial that the “heinous, gruesome” killings were premeditated.
“It was a planned act in a cowardly way while these people slept,” the prosecutor said.
Cristo, who has been in custody since her August 2010 arrest, lived at the home with her grandparents and her father.
Cristo’s grandfather was stabbed 47 times, and her grandmother suffered 112 knife wounds.
“(The) defendant was able to take Jack down with 47,” McPherson said, telling jurors that Cristo’s grandmother tried to fight back and that Lopez acknowledged helping Cristo with her grandmother.
“They covered up the bodies as if they were sleeping to delay discovery,” the prosecutor said.
The teen’s grandfather had become aware about a week earlier that his checks were being forged and confronted her, McPherson said.
Lopez and Cristo were stopped a few days later in El Paso, Texas.
Lopez’s attorney, Simon Aval, maintained that his statement to detectives about the crime was “not truthful.”
“Just because he said something doesn’t make it true,” Aval told jurors in an unsuccessful bid for an acquittal. “I would submit to you that my client did not commit this crime.”
He said there was “no physical evidence” linking Lopez to the bedroom or the couple’s home.
The victims were found dead under a blanket in their bed by one of their sons after family members became concerned that a relative had not heard from them on her birthday.