The man who killed promising Seattle musician Mia Zapata in 1993 was again sentenced this afternoon to 36 years in prison even though the state Court of Appeals overturned his original 36-year prison sentence because it was too long.
The man who killed promising Seattle musician Mia Zapata in 1993 was again sentenced to 36 years in prison this afternoon even though the state Court of Appeals overturned his original 36-year prison sentence because it was too long.
Jesus Mezquia, 54, was convicted in 2004 of raping and killing Zapata while she left a friend’s Capitol Hill home around 2 a.m. on July 7, 1993. Zapata, 27, singer in a band called The Gits, She had been out celebrating a successful West Coast tour and grieving a recently lost relationship. An autopsy revealed that Zapata had been bitten and was strangled by the cords on her sweat shirt.
Detectives preserved DNA from the bite wounds and sent them to the state crime lab. In 2002, the DNA was matched with Mezquia, who was entered in to the national databank when he was convicted of possessing burglar’s tools. He was living in Florida at the time.
Because of the extreme injuries suffered by Zapata, the trial-court judge said she found legal justification for the 36-year sentence, which was 10 years longer than the standard range for felony murder.
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The appellate court overturned the sentence in 2005 based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as the Blakely decision, which said that any factor that extends a sentence beyond its standard range must be proven by a jury or admitted by the defendant.
But Mesquia waived his right to a jury finding of an aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt, prompting today’s sentence.
Mezquia has been in prison since January 2003.
Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report