"We will never understand the heinous murder of my mother. I often re-live her terror and horror. She was a weak, gentle old lady; no match for you, Peter Thao," Aguilar said.
Thao had apparently followed her home after a visit to a nearby casino. Witnesses supplied police with a description of the man lurking nearby and this sketch led to Thao's arrest.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder to avoid a possible death penalty; later changed his mind and tried to withdraw that plea. It was refused and Judge Ana Espana sentenced Thao to 31-years to life in prison.
Connie Rivera's family believes justice is served.
"So your crimes dropped you to a bottomless pit: Prison," Aguilar said.
The loss, though, remains.
"There is an empty chair, an empty space on the dining table; an eerie silence many times during the day and night and the pain still goes on till now," Aguilar said.