Mom curses Jackson Heights killer at sentencing

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The 29-year-old Jackson Heights man who drunkenly killed a 23-year-old recent Chinese immigrant in a Flushing alley last May has been sentenced to 22 years in life in prison.

The sentencing April 27 of illegal Mexican immigrant Carlos Salazar Cruz offered little solace to Guihua Yu, the mother of aspiring lawyer Yu Yao. Yao was brutally beaten with a metal pipe, raped and left for dead in an alley the night of May 16, 2010. She was in a coma in the initial days after the attack, but was removed from life support five days later.

“You beast! Give me back my daughter!” Yu Yao’s mother, Guihua Yu shouted in Mandarin as she pointed at Cruz, the New York Post reported. “You have destroyed our lives. I wish a life of hell for you .... Sentence the harshest, the most severe punishment on this beast.”

Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Buchter said he would have preferred to sentence Cruz, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, to execution, according to the Post.

“The facts of the crime deserve the death penalty,” Buchter said, the Post reported. “I really had a hard time keeping it together. It was awful, awful.”

Yu Yao had only been in the United States for two months at the time of her murder and she had found a home on Maple Avenue just 20 days before she died, according to police.

She was walking with groceries along the 133rd block of 41st Road in downtown Flushing at about 9:10 p.m. May 16 when Cruz struck her in the head with a pipe and dragged her by her hair into a nearby alleyway, removed her clothing from the waist down, raped her with a metal pipe and beat her into a coma, according to court papers.

Yu said in court, according to the Post, that she “wanted to die” when she arrived in America shortly after her daughter’s death on a special visa secured with the assistance of state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside). A similar visa was secured to allow her to see Cruz locked away last week.

“My world collapsed,” the Post said she told Buchter. “When I arrived, it was too late, all I saw was a corpse.”

Police said Cruz was so drunk at the time of his arrest he did not even know how he got to downtown Flushing.

Cruz cried through an apology, but Buchter did not honor his words with leniency.

“I regret all that had happened. I ask for 1,000 times to forgive me,” Cruz said, according to the Post. “It wasn’t planned to hurt a family. I lost my family as well all because of drugs and alcohol.”

He will be deported to Mexico if he ever gets out of prison alive.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Cruz deserves to rot in jail.

“The sentence imposed today by the court is more than warranted,” he said in a statement. “The defendant brutally attacked and murdered a young woman who was returning home from grocery shopping. By doing so, he robbed her of a promising future and stole the hopes and dreams of her family.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 10:40 am, October 12, 2011
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