A 23-year-old woman from China was raped and fatally beaten on a street in Flushing.
Wednesday, her killer was sentenced, and her mournful family was there.
"You have destroyed our lives," Guihua Yu, the victim's mother, cried in court.
Guihua Yu collapsed in court as she faced her daughter's murderer.
Because of what he did, she can't remember her daughter smiling in front of the Statue of Liberty, full of the hope of attaining the American dream.
29-year-old Carlos Cruz destroyed those hopes the day he beat Yu Yao with a pipe, dragged her into a Flushing alleyway where he brutally raped the 23-year-old woman then left her for dead.
"Come back my daughter, my only child," Yu cried.
Yao immigrated to the United States just two months before her murder.
She worked in a nail salon to save money to go to law school.
In May, the 23-year-old woman was on her way home from grocery shopping around 9:30 at night when Cruz savagely attacked her on 41st Road in Flushing.
He was caught casually walking away from the crime covered in blood and carrying the murder weapon.
"Without any reason that he's ever revealed he then decided to beat the life out of her. She was dragged screaming into a driveway. He left impressions on her skull from the pipe he used to kill her," the Assistant District Attorney said.
Yao died several days later before her mother could see her alive one last time.
Wednesday at sentencing, Cruz blamed drugs and alcohol for what he did.
"I feel destroyed, and I regret all that has happened," Cruz said.
The illegal Mexican immigrant pled guilty in February.
Just before reading his sentence, Judge Richard Buchter said if the law allowed it he would have sentenced Cruz to the death penalty.
"This is the crime of a psychopath, a sociopath. I find the verdict for the crime of murder in the second degree the defendant will not serve less than 22 years to a maximum of life in prison. This defendant has no assurance that he'll see the light of day," Judge Buchter said.