FAIRFAX, Va. - A Fairfax County judge Friday sentenced a Falls Church man to 49 years in prison for murdering college student Vanessa Pham.
Pham, 19 of Falls Church, offered to give Julio Miguel Blanco Garcia and his infant a ride to the hospital in June 2010 when Blanco Garcia, high on PCP, stabbed her at least 13 times, killing her.
In August, Blanco Garcia was found guilty and the jury recommend the 49-year sentence, representing a 30-year prison term plus 19 years for Pham's age.
"This is a truly innocent victim," Fairfax County Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Casey Lingan said after Friday's sentencing hearing.
Lingan said Pham's family gave up what little they had to send her to college.
"There was palpable sadness," he said of a meeting with the Pham family after the sentencing. He said there's no way to quantify the loss of her young life.
Lingan said that Pham's mother, in her impact statement, wrote about how she won't see her daughter fall in love, marry or have children. Something as simple as having a conversation with her daughter has turned into "a one-way conversation with a tomb stone."
Defense lawyers told the judge that Blanco Garcia was remorseful and took full responsibility for what he did as they tried to argue for a lesser sentenced for their client.
Before Judge Jane Roush sentenced him, Blanco Garcia spoke to the Pham family saying he was "deeply sorry for what I did and I hope my punishment will help them in their grieving process."
Ray Morrogh, county commonwealth's attorney, said he asked the jury for a life sentence and he was disappointed with the jury's recommendation.
"I think this case is more about lust rather than PCP. We maintain and we've always maintained that Mr. Blanco Garcia abducted Vanessa (Pham) to rape her," Morrogh said.
Pham fought back but ended up losing that fight and losing her life too, he said.
Pham, a graduate of Madison High School, was killed while on summer break from Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Her body was found in her white, Scion hatchback just off U.S. 50 in the Merrifield area of Fairfax County.
Her murder went unsolved for nearly 2.5 years despite the release of surveillance video that showed her car in Fairfax Shopping Plaza minutes before her body was discovered.
Police connected Blanco Garcia, a day laborer, to the killing using fingerprint evidence from a 2012 arrest for shoplifting.
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