ALBION, N.Y. (WIVB) - An illegal immigrant will no longer stand trial for murder in Orleans County. Carlos Cardenas pleaded guilty on Wednesday.
Cardenas had been charged with rape and murder in the death of his 15-year-old sister-in-law. Just before jury selection began Wednesday, he admitted his crimes.
The 22-year-old decided to spare his family the painful ordeal of a trial, and pleaded guilty to strangling his wife's 15-year-old sister, Katherine Sanchez, and disposing of her body in an apple orchard in Orleans County.
Defense attorney Mary Beth Feindt said, "He felt very strongly that he needed to take responsibility for this and provide some closure to the family of Katherine. It's his wife's family."
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Cardenas's wife Kimberly and her family were in court when Cardenas took the guilty plea and told Orleans County Judge James Punch he strangled Katherine because she was screaming.
After he was arrested, he told authorities he had strangled Katherine in the bathroom of his home:
"When I took my arm off her neck," he wrote, "she fell to the ground and was unconscious."
Cardenas' guilty plea has given the family some relief.
Orleans County DA Joseph Cardone said, "They're very relieved. They're very thankful that there's closure in this matter, that now there's no question about what caused the death of Katherine."
Back in February of 2011, Cardenas' wife couldn't contain her anger when she first saw her husband after his arrest. She had been overcome with grief after learning of her sister's murder.
She said, "One nasty man that could do something to my sister like that. She was innocent. She didn't do nothing to him."
Katherine Sanchez was a 9th grader at Albion Middle School and known for her bright smile. She was on the track and field team. Cardenas, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico faces a possible 25 to life prison sentence.
The Orleans County District Attorney says if Cardenas is ever let out of prison, he would face deportation to Mexico because of his violent felony conviction.
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