Felon Who Dodged Three Strikes Sent to Prison For Rape, Murder of Runaway

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A convicted rapist—who had been eligible for prosecution under California’s three-strikes law, but who had been allowed to plea bargain to a lesser sentence—has been given a life sentence for the rape and murder of a homeless runaway in 2007.

The “third strike” in the case of Gilton Beltrand Pitre, 38, was a felony charge for the sale of $5 worth of marijuana to an undercover officer. Previously, he had been convicted of residential burglary in 1994, and rape in 1996. Los Angeles County prosecutors could have pursued a sentence of 25 years to life in prison on the felony drug charge, pursuant to that state’s three-strikes law, which was enacted in 1994. Pitre was allowed to plead guilty to a drug crime, however, in exchange for only 32 months in prison, as a result of a policy by District Attorney Steve Cooley, in which prosecutors rarely pursue life sentences for those convicted of minor offenses even when it is their third strike.

Two years later—and just four days after Pitre was released from prison—he raped and strangled Alyssa Gomez, 15, in a Silver Lake motel room.

Gomez, a homeless runaway, had visited the Olive Motel on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake with Pitre; the next morning, her body was found dumped in an alley behind a nearby restaurant. According to prosecutors, Pitre had had sex with the girl before strangling her. He was found guilty of murder and unlawful sex with a minor under the age of 16 in May 2010, in large part because he was caught on hotel surveillance footage, first entering the hotel with a woman dressed in goth clothes, which were Gomez’s trademark outfit; then, hours later, leaving the room carrying a large object wrapped in a comforter. Additionally, Pitre had registered at the motel using his full name and driver’s license number.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy sentenced Pitre to 75 years to life for murder, 25 years for statutory rape and an additional 10 years for the two prior serious offenses—a total of 110 years in prison. In doing so, she spoke of the security tapes which helped implicate the killer.

“There is no panic. There is no evidence of regret…. She was disposed of like a piece of trash,” said Kennedy. “This is someone who can never be rehabilitated.”

Kennedy also said that Pitre “needs to be locked up for the rest of his life” because of his “innate hatred for women.”

The case has fueled critics of Cooley’s policy, saying that it fails to adequately protect society from violent repeat offenders.

 

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