Man Is Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison for 1992 Cold-Case Murder in Irvine

A man was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the first degree murder of a 19-year-old woman in Irvine, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.

Leonardo Pimentel Sanchez, 59, is a former fugitive who was extradited from Mexico City to Orange County to face first degree murder charges. In March 1992, Sanchez beat, raped and murdered 19-year-old Cari Ann Parnes, who suffered skull and jaw fractures due to blunt force trauma and major hemorrhaging in her chest, spine, brain and neck, according to prosecutors.

Her body was later found in an Irvine orange grove by field workers, prosecutors said.

At Sanchez’s sentencing on Friday, the mother of the victim gave an emotional victim impact statement before the court, according to a news release from the O.C. DA’s office.

“I know she would have been a great mother, and I would have loved to be a grandmother to her future children,” Rosemary Hudson told the court. “But that is an experience I will never know.”

“She was well on the way to doing something great with her life, until she crossed paths with the defendant,” Hudson said.

For eight years, the case remained unsolved, according to the O.C. DA’s office, until 2000 when investigators linked Sanchez to the murder through DNA acquired by a rape kit. At that time, Sanchez had 27 different aliases — including 12 different dates of birth and five driver’s licenses.

The former fugitive was finally pinned down by authorities in November 2012, when he was taken into custody in Tijuana for causing a disturbance in a business, prosecutors said. From there, Mexican authorities notified Orange County investigators that they had Sanchez in custody and the extradition proceedings began.

Sanchez was convicted of first degree murder in March before being sentenced on Friday.