Man gets 76 years in 1982 slayings
On Friday, Robert Besabe was sentenced to 76 years in prison for killing a 24-year-old woman and her baby 27 years ago.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A pregnant Seattle woman and her best friend were driving home from work when they stopped to offer a man they knew a ride.
Robert Besabe hopped in the back seat. Moments later, he shot the driver, 24-year-old Caroline Montoya, in the back of the head. He fired again, but missed hitting his ex-girlfriend, Eleanor Velasco.
Montoya and her unborn boy died 27 years ago and for most of that time, Besabe was on the run.
On Friday, he was sentenced to 76 years in prison, although the 55-year-old plans to appeal his conviction.
After the shootings on Aug. 16, 1982, Besabe fled to California and assumed an alias. He served 10 years in prison for killing a different girlfriend's lover, and was then deported to his native Philippines.
He was arrested in September 2007 after he walked into the U.S. Embassy in Manila to try to get a new passport. On the FBI's most-wanted list for 25 years, Besabe made a critical mistake: He applied for the passport using his real name, not the alias — Bobby Sagwil Sanchez — he had used in California. That's when the decades-old Washington arrest warrant resurfaced.
Besabe was extradited to Washington. A King County jury in November found him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.
Caroline "Carol" Montoya's youngest sister began to cry even before she reached the microphone to address King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers on Friday. Only 16 when her sister died, Zone Montoya spoke of the long years her family has waited for justice. An aspiring fashion designer, Carol Montoya was excited about becoming a mother, she said.
Her baby died two days after the shooting, while Carol Montoya was in a coma for six weeks before her death.
Until Besabe's trial, Zone Montoya said her family never knew exactly what happened in that car.
"I never sobbed so loud and so deeply for my sister Carol," she said. "Carol never had a chance."
Scott Ketterling, one of Besabe's defense attorneys, pleaded for leniency, telling the judge: "Mr. Besabe spent 27 years being haunted by this case.
"His siblings and parents lost him in 1982. They had no contact with him until he was brought back to Seattle in 2007," Ketterling said, noting that Besabe is the father of three grown children.
The judge, offering condolences to the Montoya family, acknowledged that any sentence he handed down would mean Besabe would likely spend the rest of his natural life in prison.
But Rogers didn't seem swayed to show leniency to a man who, jurors heard, was devastated by his breakup with Velasco and blamed Montoya for the split.
"I have to say this act, the shooting of two women and a baby in utero ... is one of the most cowardly acts I have ever seen in my entire career," the judge said.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or email@example.com
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