EVERETT — Jacoba Ramirez-Rodriguez had found the courage to walk away.
She endured the slaps and punches for years. She believed her husband would change. Then in May 2013, she asked for a court’s help to keep Oscar Garcia-Pacheco away from her. She was divorcing him and she was afraid.
Garcia-Pacheco stabbed his wife 19 times on a Monroe sidewalk as she tried to hand him the court document that ordered him to stay away.
“It is often said that the most dangerous time for a domestic violence victim is when the victim tries to separate,” Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair said Monday.
In this case, that proved tragically true, the judge said.
Fair on Monday sentenced Garcia-Pacheco to 22 years in prison. She called the defendant’s actions “inexplicable, abhorrent and unspeakable.”
“I’m very sorry for the loss and suffering this family has endured,” Fair said.
Garcia-Pacheco, 33, said on Monday that he cannot explain what happened.
“I regret greatly what I did and I ask for forgiveness for all the pain I caused,” he said through a Spanish interpreter.
The Monroe man pleaded guilty in July to first-degree domestic violence murder with a deadly weapon. He faced up to 28 years behind bars.
Garcia-Pacheco isn’t believed to be in the U.S. legally and might be deported after he is released from prison.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell supported the low-end sentence as part of the plea agreement. He said the victim’s family did not want to re-live the murder in a public trial or endure years of appeals if Garcia-Pacheco was convicted by a jury.
“The insidiousness of domestic violence at any level of severity is a threat to the community in general and victims in particular. However, a case such as this illustrates that the family members of victims of domestic violence are also victims,” Cornell wrote.
The slain woman’s parents wrote the judge a letter, saying their daughter was a wonderful, generous person.
They never expected such violence from Garcia-Pacheco. He had told them that he and Ramirez-Rodriguez were going to separate and go their own ways.
“Our souls hurt,” they wrote.
The slain woman’s sister told the judge on Monday that their mother is heartbroken. Her daughter was returned home in a coffin.
“She didn’t deserve it,” Nicolasa Garcia said.
Ramirez-Rodriguez, 34, sought a protection order against her husband days before she was stabbed, citing his escalating anger and past assaultive behavior. In her statement to the court, she explained that the couple was in the process of divorcing. They had dated for about eight years before marrying in 2007. They had lived in Monroe for more than a decade. Ramirez-Rodriguez wrote that her husband sometimes left her with bruises and black eyes. She didn’t report the abuse because she “always thought he would change.”
On May 20, 2013, she called police. Her husband came to their business and caused a disturbance. He was throwing items around and arguing with relatives. No one was arrested that night. The next day she asked a judge to prohibit Garcia-Pacheco from coming to their home or business. She planned to make private arrangements to serve her husband with the order instead of asking police.
Garcia-Pacheco showed up at the family business on May 24, 2013, and the couple argued for a short time. Ramirez-Rodriguez walked to her car to get the court order. Her husband followed her to the car and then plunged the knife into her stomach as the woman stood on the sidewalk.
He had bought a knife set that day with the intention of killing his wife and then committing suicide.
Ramirez-Rodriguez suffered an eviscerated bowel, perforated spleen and cuts to her colon and diaphragm. The injuries caused a dramatic drop in her blood pressure, which likely caused the stroke that left her brain dead. Doctors removed the woman from life support a week later.
“It is important for the court to know that the victim did nothing wrong,” Cornell said. “She did everything she could. Sadly, it was not enough.”
Where to find help
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there is assistance through Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County. The agency provides emergency shelter, legal services, support groups and domestic violence education. For information, call the 24-hour crisis hotline at 425-252-2873.