Willimantic man could have gotten 90 years in prison in 2018 hot oil death. He got 45.

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DANIELSON - Assistant State’s Attorney Marissa Goldberg described Julio Cruz-Cabrera Friday as a cowardly but crafty man whose seething anger and innate insecurities led him to strangle his girlfriend nearly four years ago in Willimantic.

First, she said, he took the gruesome step of dousing her with hot oil in an attempt to incapacitate her.

“This was not an impulsive act, but the premeditated act of a weak man trying to make someone suffer,” Goldberg said in Danielson Superior Court where Cruz-Cabrera was sentenced to 45 years in prison Friday for the murder of 27-year-old Willimantic resident Angela Martinez-Acevedo.

On the morning of Oct. 2, 2018, Cruz-Cabrera became angry with Martinez-Acevedo over her accepting social media requests from other men, Goldberg said, while the defendant stood expressionless in a bright orange jail jumpsuit a few feet away.

Julio Cruz-Cabrera, of Willimantic, listens to a judge at Danielson Superior Court in this file photo
Julio Cruz-Cabrera, of Willimantic, listens to a judge at Danielson Superior Court in this file photo

Goldberg said Cruz-Cabrera, his anger bubbling, took Martinez-Acevedo’s young son to a bus stop, re-entered the couple’s Ash Street apartment and begin boiling a large pot of cooking oil as part of his plan to “weaken” his girlfriend, Goldberg said.

She said Cruz-Cabrera threw the searing liquid on the victim and began strangling her with an electrical-type cord, eventually placing a pillow on her face to ensure she was dead.

“The level of anger shown is extremely disturbing," Goldberg said.

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A medical examiner determined Martinez-Acevedo suffered severe burns, blunt-force trauma injuries and ligature wounds. Despite suffering horrific injuries, Goldberg said Martinez-Acevedo fought her attacker right up until her death.

“He left her body in the apartment knowing (Martinez-Acevedo’s) children would be the first to return to the residence,” Goldberg said.

After the murder, Cruz-Cabrera fled to New York City where he eventually confessed to the crime. He initially refused to be extradited back to Connecticut, but was eventually brought back to the state months later.

In March, he pleaded guilty to charges of murder and first-degree assault. A first-degree strangulation charge was dropped as part of the agreed-on disposition.

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In addition to the plea-negotiated prison term - 30 years of which are mandatory - Cruz-Cabrera, who faced 90 years in prison if convicted on all counts at trial, was also ordered by Judge John Newson to serve 10 years of special parole and have no contact with the victim’s children.

Cruz-Cabrera’s public defender, George Flores, said a previous probable cause hearing convinced him that his 32-year-old client’s police confession could not be suppressed and there was “no great chance of convincing a jury” to render a not-guilty verdict at trial.

Flores said Cruz-Cabrera, who declined to address the court, was remorseful and was lately experiencing nightmares over the crime.

John Penney can be reached at jpenney@norwichbulletin.com or at (860) 857-6965.

This article originally appeared on The Bulletin: Willimantic's Cruz-Cabrera to serve 45 years in Martinez-Acevedo death