WASHINGTON – A Fairfax County jury has recommended that Julio Miguel Blanco Garcia serve a 49-year prison sentence for the 2010 murder of Vanessa Pham.
A judge will finalize his sentence at a hearing set for later this fall.
Earlier on Thursday, Aug. 22, a Fairfax County jury found Blanco Garcia guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Pham of Vienna, Va., who was 19 at the time.
Pham was giving Blanco Garcia and his infant daughter a ride to the hospital in June of 2010 when Blanco Garcia, high on PCP, stabbed her 13 times, killing her.
The jury head three days of testimony which included a videotaped confession from Blanco Garcia.
“I don’t know what happened. I grabbed the knife. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to,” he said. “I’m not a bad guy, I was just so high that time.”
Raymond Morrogh, a prosecutor for the Commonwealth, said while they were hoping for a life sentence, a fair verdict was rendered.
Morrogh said the jury made special note in the verdict that the sentence was 30 years plus 19, because Pham was 19 when she was killed.
“It goes without saying that when you play with drugs, you are playing with fire. Unfortunately an innocent person got burned in this case.”
Morrogh also praised the Fairfax County Police Department’s crime scene work, noting detectives Robert Bond and and Dereck Hardy.
In closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors said Blanco Garcia acted deliberately, ABC7 reports.
The defense, in its closing argument, said the prosecutors did not prove first- degree murder, saying they did prove premeditation.
Defense attorney David Bernhard said Blanco Garcia’s actions were not premeditated.
Watch more from the trial from ABC7:
Watch more video from the trial.
WTOP’s Kathy Stewart contributed to this report.
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