GOSHEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A convicted sex offender who admitted to suffocating a 25-year-old aspiring dancer from Texas has been sentenced to 23 years in prison.
WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman On The Story
In court on Tuesday, Garza’s mother and brother addressed Mele, calling him a coward and saying there was no forgiveness for what he did.
Mele apologized for “what happened.” Judge Michael DeRosa corrected him saying, “not for what happened, but for what you did.”
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Mele confessed to suffocating Garza in his Wallkill apartment in December 2008 after she became upset when she learned he had a girlfriend.
He said he put her body in a laundry basket, drove to Pennsylvania and dumped her remains in the woods.
Prosecutors said a surveillance camera captured Mele and Garza leaving the Marquee nightclub in Chelsea early on Dec. 3, 2008 and were last spotted near hiss apartment.
Mele quickly became the prime suspect in her disappearance and prosecutors said he refused to talk about Garza as he became the focus of the investigation.
He was quickly locked up on a parole violation. A body check revealed scratches on his back and a possible bite mark on his finger, prosecutors said.
During the investigation, police found patches of carpet had been cut away at Mele’s apartment. The evidence tampering charge alleges that Mele hid carpet fragments, a car mat and Garza’s body to prevent them from becoming trial evidence.
Mele has had several sex-offense convictions in New York, most involving approaching women while masturbating. He was wanted in New Jersey for similar crimes.