Francisco Acevedo gets 75 to life for three murders

January 17, 2012 2:44:32 PM PST
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 was 3 years old when her mother was killed. "I hope you suffer every day of your everlasting life," she said.

Devon Hodges, the mother of another victim, told Acevedo he was "a filthy little animal."

Acevedo maintained his innocence and told the judge he had prayed for the women and 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 on a drunken driving charge.

The hit on the state's DNA database - 20 years after the first killing - thrilled Yonkers cold case detectives who said they had looked at more than 100 potential suspects in the case, but not Acevedo.

"He wasn't very happy to see us" when police came to arrest him, Detective John Geiss said.

The 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.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently proposed expanding the DNA database to include profiles of those convicted of many more crimes, including drunken driving. He said that since 1996, the database has provided leads to 2,700 convictions while helping free 27 people who were wrongly accused.

Associated Press Writer Michael Virtanen in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.

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