The daughter of a Pasco woman who was beaten and slashed with a knife wanted answers from the killer on Monday.
“Why did you do it? ... We deserve to know why,” Amy Garcia Mayoral yelled in court at Guadalupe Montejano.
But Montejano ignored the daughter’s pleas, telling the judge he had nothing else to say about Tamie Clark-Acevedo or her death on Jan. 3, 2014.
Montejano, 49, admitted killing his friend by cutting her neck, then stuffing her body in a closet in his Pasco apartment and covering it with a sleeping bag.
He had been set to face a jury later this month in Franklin County Superior Court.
Instead, Montejano pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. His plea agreement also included first-degree malicious mischief for his destructive behavior while in the Franklin County jail.
Garcia Mayoral had hoped for more time.
In a statement read by Norma Good — Clark-Acevedo’s sister and Garcia Mayoral’s aunt — the daughter said her mother experienced a death that no one deserves.
“My children will never know their grandmother. She will never get to see them grow,” said Garcia Mayoral, who held a picture of Clark-Acevedo while her aunt spoke. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gotten to experience being a mother.”
Meanwhile, Montejano gets to visit with his mother and children, she said.
Even though Montejano’s time in prison won’t bring her mother back, Garcia Mayoral said, the killer deserves 20-plus years so her family can have some kind of closure knowing he will never be able to harm, hurt or destroy another person again.
An autopsy showed Clark-Acevedo, 46, suffered severe head wounds, along with the deep cut to her throat.
Montejano told at least one person at the apartment complex, “Tammy [sic] is dead. I killed Tammy,” according to court documents.
Neighbors reported hearing screams and items breaking inside the apartment earlier that day, though no one apparently called police until later.
Clark-Acevedo and Montejano were acquaintances, and she was staying with him until she could afford to find a place of her own.
Montejano originally had been charged with first-degree murder.
Deputy Prosecutor Frank Jenny explained that while it’s not “a perfect outcome,” they avoid the possibility at trial of “a completely unjust verdict” since it is a circumstantial case with limited evidence that premeditation may have been involved.
Don Wheeler faced the judge and said until recently, his intentions were to tell Montejano “what a poor excuse of a human being he is for murdering in cold blood my sister Tamie Acevedo. However, I have decided instead that I will inform Mr. Montejano that us Christians will win.”
Clark-Acevedo was a Christian, and that’s why she cared about other people more than herself and every stray animal that crossed her path, he said.
“We Christians are a compassionate people, an emotion that I don’t find in you,” Wheeler said. “The woman you murdered in cold blood will be standing next to Jesus when you get there,” and that is when the trial actually will begin.
“I don’t believe Tamie was ready to leave yet, so it will be an interesting concept how you’re going to explain to Jesus what you did to my sister when she’s standing next to Christ,” he added. “Jesus Christ taught us we are to forgive and forget if the person is repentant and is remorseful about what they have done. I don’t see that in you.”
Wheeler closed by telling Montejano that he may want to look over his shoulder when he gets into the prison system, because his sister has a friend who “may be awaiting your arrival.”
Good told Judge Carrie Runge that no sentence will bring her sister back and it won’t stop the grieving her family has endured since January 2014. “But at least justice will be served,” she said.
Defense attorney Shelley Ajax said her client is God-fearing, “understands he has to answer to God,” and was in court Monday to take responsibility.
Montejano told Clark-Acevedo's family he was sorry about their loss, and that there were “no amount of words, sorrow or remorse” he could have expressed for what he did to her. He said his friend was deserving of dignity, respect, love and life.
Montejano had about a half-dozen relatives in court.
He said he doesn’t expect to be forgiven for his “careless and reckless act,” but asked his mother and other family members for forgiveness so long as he lives and hopes some day Clark-Acevedo’s loved ones can find it in their hearts.
While in the Franklin County jail awaiting trial on the murder case, Montejano has caused more than $6,000 in damage to the facility, including breaking the window to his cell, pulling a metal desk from the wall and beating the cell door with it. He also damaged a padded holding cell and ripped his suicide smock to use the stuffing to cover that cell’s camera.
Montejano’s criminal history includes possession of heroin and a federal conviction for illegal possession of a firearm, which he agreed is comparable to the Washington felony of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
Judge Runge — after hearing Garcia Mayoral’s questions from the audience and her ensuing sobs — thanked the family for addressing her, but said unfortunately she can never answer their questions about why.
She commended Montejano for pleading guilty and saving the family from having to sit through a trial and wondering what a jury might do.
“Of course, it’s tragic that two families are brought together in this courtroom because of the tragic loss of Tamie Acevedo and, of course, we heard that this loss comes at your hands, Mr. Montejano,” Runge said. “As pointed out by Mr. Wheeler, and it sounds as if you believe this as well, true justice is not for me in this courtroom. True justice comes from up above.”