Man Who Raped, Strangled Nun Gets Life
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) _ An itinerant laborer who pleaded guilty to raping two nuns and strangling one with her rosary beads has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Maximiliano Silerio Esparza, 33, was sentenced Tuesday for the murder of Sister Helen Lynn Chaska, 53. He got another 10 years for the attempted murder of the surviving nun, and 15 years for raping the women.
In return for his guilty plea, Esparza avoided a possible death sentence.
Prosecutor Edwin Caleb said he offered the plea for several reasons, including the surviving nun’s religious convictions. Caleb also said he didn’t want to force her to testify.
Police say Esparza, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, rode a train from Portland to Klamath Falls about a week before the attack. After visiting a strip bar, he encountered the nuns as they walked along a bike path in their religious habits, attacked them and fled on a bicycle, police said.
Chaska _ who went by the name Sister Helena Maria _ was strangled with her own beads, according to an autopsy. She was a nun with the Bellevue, Wash., Immaculate Heart of Mary, a small order unaffiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
Chaska’s sister said her family was satisfied with the sentence.
``We believe Sister Helena forgave him already,″ Melanie Korczak said from her home in Bowman, N.D. ``We’re pleased we can finally take a deep breath and say, ’It’s over.‴
A statement from the surviving victim read in court said she still carried the physical and emotional pain of the attack, but prayed Esparza would repent.
``Sleepless nights and nightmares are not an uncommon occurrence and I find myself, against my will, apprehensive to be out in public anymore, even with a group of nuns walking at my side through the park,″ she wrote.