PORTLAND, Oegon - Yesterday, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill announced a 20 year prison sentence for 52-year-old Jorge Sosa-Soler for killing Yaritza Valdez-Almaguer, his longtime girlfriend.
The defendant appeared before Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Karin J. Immergut and pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree constituting domestic violence and unlawful use of a weapon constituting domestic violence.
"No one deserves to be hurt by someone they love," said Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Shawn Overstreet, who prosecuted this case. "This is an incredibly sad case that highlights the lethality that can exist hidden in domestic violence situations. Both Ms. Valdez-Almaguer and the defendant lived in a small village in Cuba. Getting to today has taken a considerable amount of time. As we negotiated the settlement of this case, we wanted to keep Ms. Valdez-Almaguer's family in Cuba updated. Doing so required them traveling from their small village to the nearest town to use the only publicly available phone."
Ms. Valdez-Almaguer's brother, Julio Valdez-Almaguer, participated in Monday's sentencing hearing via phone from Cuba.
Through a translator, he said the death of his sister "has very, very much affected our family and that he [Sosa-Soler] had no right to kill her."
Blanca Mojena-Arzuaga, a longtime friend of Ms. Valdez-Almaguer, remembers her as "such a good person."
"She was perfect," Mojena-Arzuaga said through a translator. "She was so sweet, so nice, and was such a happy person."
Mojena-Arzuaga remembers the day when Ms. Valdez-Almaguer called from Cuba and told her she wanted to come live with her in the United States.
"In Cuba, she was living in a home that had a dirt floor," Mojena-Arzuaga said. "She wanted to come to Oregon for a better life for herself, Jorge and her son who is now nine years old and living with family in Cuba. Yaritza was also planning to bring her son to Oregon ."
Ms. Valdez-Almaguer and Sosa-Soler moved in February 2016. Shortly after moving to Portland, Ms. Valdez-Almaguer enrolled in English classes at IRCO and was prepared to continue to work as a physical therapist.
Mojena-Arzuaga said that she and the family would eventually forgive the defendant. Sosa-Soler spoke briefly in court and said, "I didn't want this. I didn't know what I was doing."
This investigation began at 1:15 p.m. on May 20, 2016 when the defendant and Valdez-Almaguer, were at a residence in the 6600 block of Northeast Glisan Street. The couple was arguing about Sosa-Soler recently being diagnosed with a medical condition. Sosa-Soler indicated he and Valdez-Almaguer needed to return to Cuba.
"As the argument continued, Ms. Valdez-Almaguer became increasingly upset with Sosa-Soler following her around the house," said Overstreet. "Valdez-Almaguer told the defendant that she was leaving him. With that realization, Sosa-Soler retrieved a large butcher knife from the kitchen and confronted Valdez-Almaguer in the couple's office area."
The Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office reported Valdez-Almaguer died of a single stab wound to the neck.
"After killing Ms. Valdez-Almaguer, Sosa-Soler cut his own throat with the knife in the kitchen in an effort to kill himself but he was found by roommates who got him immediate medical attention," said Overstreet.
Under Oregon law, the maximum sentence for a conviction of manslaughter in the first-degree is 20 years.
Mr. Sosa-Soler's criminal defense team presented evidence to the court that suggested he was suffering from a mental health crisis when he killed Ms. Valdez-Almaguer.