WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A serial killer who avoided detection for 20 years — until he voluntarily gave a DNA sample — was sentenced Tuesday to 75 years to life in prison.
Francisco Acevedo, 43, had been convicted of murdering three women in Yonkers between 1989 and 1996.
"These were monstrous crimes by a cruel and inhuman individual," said Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli, who combined three maximum sentences.
Relatives of each of the victims denounced Acevedo in court.
Shulisha Ramos, who was 3 years old when her mother was killed, said: "I hope you suffer every day of your everlasting life. ... I just hate you."
Devon Hodges, mother of one victim, told Acevedo through tears that he was "a filthy pig." Another victim's mother said her daughter's children, 2 and 4 when she died, "never had the chance to love her the way she so completely loved them."
Acevedo told the judge he is innocent and added: "I prayed for these women. I prayed for their souls. I prayed for their families."
The killings occurred in Yonkers in 1989, 1991 and 1996. Investigators linked them because each woman was found strangled, naked, bound at the hands and facing upward. They were also linked to each other by DNA found in vaginal swabs, but police did not know whose DNA it was.
In 2009, however, Acevedo voluntarily gave up a DNA sample as a condition of an optional parole application while he was in jail for drunken driving. The conviction itself did not compel a DNA sample, although drunken driving would be covered under an expansion recently proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The hit on the state's DNA database — 20 years after the first killing — startled Yonkers police who said they had looked at more than 100 potential suspects in the case, but not Acevedo.
"I was ecstatic," Detective John Geiss, the cold case specialist in Yonkers, said Tuesday after attending the sentencing. He said he hopes eventually "everyone who gets locked up" is required to give up DNA.
"It's a great tool," he said. "DNA doesn't lie."
Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said the Acevedo case is "the most compelling example" supporting expansion of the DNA database.
Cuomo has said that since 1996, the database has provided leads to 2,700 convictions while helping free 27 people who were wrongly accused.
Acevedo's victims were Maria Ramos, 26, and Tawana Hodges, 38, both of the Bronx, and Kimberly Moore, 30, of Greenburgh.
Acevedo was acquitted of three counts of rape. Police had said Ramos and Hodges were prostitutes.
Acevedo acknowledged he had sex with the three women but denied the rape and murder charges.
Associated Press Writer Michael Virtanen in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.