A convicted murderer who was serving a 110-year-to-life prison term when he confessed to strangling two women — one of whom was pregnant — was sentenced Wednesday to three consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Leslie A. Swain called Gilton Pitre, 46, a “serial killer” and his crimes “such acts of evilness,” but acknowledged that he had voluntarily admitted his involvement in the 2004 slayings.
“You will have many years to think about this,” the judge said, telling him that she believes the victims’ families “will never have a day of peace because of your actions.”
The former Los Angeles resident was behind bars for the June 2007 killing of Alyssa Gomez when he handed a note to a prison guard in June 2014 indicating that he wanted to confess to the January 2004 killing of an unidentified woman — who was also known by the names Maribel Medina and Anna — and the September 2004 killing of Irma Barboza, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Deputy District Attorney Samuel Hulefeld.
Pitre had dated both of the women, who were transients and whose bodies were dumped in the downtown Los Angeles area, according to the court papers. The third murder charge involved the fetus of Barboza, who was about eight months pregnant with another man’s child when she was slain.
The killings had gone unsolved for about a decade, and law enforcement had “exhausted all investigative leads without identifying Pitre as a potential suspect,” according to the prosecutor’s court filing, which noted that Pitre subsequently “gave two lengthy recorded interviews describing these crimes in detail, explaining his reasons for confessing, and expressing remorse.”
“Pitre explained, `The reason I’m confessing is I have a conscience,’ and that he was “trying to get right with God,” according to the court papers.
Pitre’s attorney, Deputy Alternate Public Defender Thomas Ahearn, told the judge that he had “never seen a case like this.”
The defense lawyer said his client had become involved with religion while behind bars, that Pitre’s “conscience had been bothering him” and that he “stepped forward … to give some closure to people.”
“He felt he needed to do this,” Ahearn told the judge, noting that he did not believe the cases would have been solved if Pitre had not come forward.
Turning to speak directly to Barboza’s family in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom, the defendant read from what he called a “letter of remorse.”
“I’m very sorry for causing you all so much pain … I hope that you will now somehow find some closure,” he said. “Something went wrong in my life to have been so evil.”
He told Barboza’s mother, aunt and uncle that he hoped they would find it in their hearts to forgive him one day.
“You are a monster and a sociopath,” the victim’s sister, Araceli Barboza, said of Pitre in a letter that was read in court by the prosecutor. “I know that God will make justice for us one day.”
In a letter read in court by a Spanish interpreter, the victim’s aunt, Rosalina Aguilar Ramirez, wrote that she wondered how Pitre could “take someone’s life” and said that her niece “didn’t deserve to die.”
The other victim’s family has never been notified about her death because authorities have been unable to determine her identity, the prosecutor told the judge.
Pitre was charged in January 2015 with the additional murders, and the District Attorney’s Office subsequently opted not to seek the death penalty against Pitre, who pleaded guilty May 29 to three counts of first-degree murder and admitted the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder with a prior murder conviction.
Pitre’s confession while behind bars at Tehachapi State Prison came about four years into his prison term for Gomez’s killing, according to the prosecutor.
The teenager — who had been strangled — was found wrapped in a bedspread from the Olive Motel and dumped in an alley about a mile away.
Footage from a surveillance camera showed him walking with a female into one of the rooms at about 11:15 p.m. on June 3, 2007, and Pitre carrying a large covered object from his room and putting it in the trunk of his car about five hours later, according to a state appellate court panel’s September 2011 ruling that upheld his conviction for Gomez’s killing.
In sentencing Pitre to the 110-year-to-life term in July 2010, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said the sentence was designed to ensure that Pitre was never released and “doesn’t have the chance to do this to somebody else.”