LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the November 1993 rape and murder of a doctor whose nude and battered body was discovered near the Harbor (110) Freeway in an unincorporated area near Torrance.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito said he felt the sentence was the “appropriate penalty” for Christopher Goree, who was 17 when Dr. Josephine Tan was killed.
The judge had the discretion of imposing a 25-year-to-life prison term or life in prison without the possibility of parole given Goree’s age at the time of the crime.
Defense attorney Leslie Ringold urged the judge to impose the lesser term, saying the mitigating factors were “overwhelming” and that a life prison term without the possibility of Goree one day regaining his freedom amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Deputy District Attorney Frances Young countered that “there has never been … an acceptance of responsibility” and that Goree has shown “no remorse for how he killed her, how he raped her.” She urged the maximum sentence, questioning what crimes he might commit if he was released from prison in the future.
Goree, now 36, was convicted in April 2011 of first-degree murder for the 41-year-old woman’s slaying.
Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation that the woman was killed during the commission of a rape. Goree could not face the death penalty because he was a juvenile at the time of the crime.
During the trial, the prosecutor told jurors that it had been 17 years, five months and a handful of days since Tan was raped, beaten and choked to death and that it was time for her killer to face justice.
Tan — who did not drive and was moving her belongings from Carson to Torrance by walking over a pedestrian footbridge above the 110 Freeway — was hit hard enough to be knocked unconscious and apparently woke up either as her clothes were being taken off or as she was being raped, Young told jurors.
“This woman fought back as hard as she could,” the prosecutor said, noting that Tan was 97 pounds and barely 5 feet tall, while the defendant is 6-foot-2 and probably weighed 175 to 185 pounds at the time.
Goree’s genetic profile, which was entered into a law enforcement database in 2002, matched the genetic profile taken nearly a decade earlier from sperm in the victim’s body, Young said.
Goree’s attorney told jurors that someone else was responsible for the killing.
“Her family has gone through unspeakable horrors … Someone brutally murdered Dr. Tan, but it was not my client, Christopher Goree,” Ringold said.
Goree’s lawyer questioned the quality of the prosecution’s case.
“Those failures of proof are on the prosecution. The insufficiency of the evidence is on the prosecution,” she said during her closing argument.
Goree was arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives in June 2002 in connection with the killing, and was ordered to stand trial as an adult.
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