Killer sentenced for murder of 92-year-old National City woman

Posted at 5:51 PM, Sep 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-26 15:34:29-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Peter Thao looked on silently as Cecilia Aguilar told of her grief.  Her voice breaking as she began reading.

"I am my mother's daughter," Aguilar said.

She recalled the horrible discovery in her mother's apartment in National City late last year; 92-year-old Connie Rivera robbed and beaten to death.

RELATED: Man who admitted to National City killing wants to withdraw guilty plea

"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.