VISTA, Calif. -- A man who raped and strangled an 84-year-old retired psychiatrist during a 2001 break-in at her Carlsbad senior housing complex and attacked an elderly woman three years later in Los Angeles has been sentenced to 34 years to life in prison.
Alejandro Avalos Fernandez, 34, pleaded guilty in October.
The 34-year-old defendant pleaded guilty in October to first-degree murder and rape in the death of Gladys Conrad and assault with intent to commit rape in the April 2004 assault on a 64-year-old woman in Los Angeles.
A friend found Conrad's body the afternoon of Sept. 1, 2001. Carlsbad police said she had been sexually assaulted and strangled early that morning or late the previous night by a man who apparently entered her home at the Carlsbad-by-the-Sea retirement village through an unlocked door or window.
There was no indication that the victim knew Fernandez, who worked odd jobs in the area and may have been staying with friends in the vicinity, said Carlsbad police Lt. Kelly Cain.
The victim in the Los Angeles case testified at a preliminary hearing last June that she was attacked about 11 p.m. as she walked two blocks home after leaving work at a convalescent home.
She said the defendant started asking her questions as she walked.
"When I looked back, he punched my face,'' the witness said.
The woman said she fell to the ground, stood back up, and was punched again.
"He tried to strangle me with his right hand and with his left hand tried to pull down my pants,'' the woman testified.
The witness said she bit her attacker's hand and he walked off after punching her again.
"I was so scared that night that he might kill me,'' she testified.
In 2007, Fernandez was arrested on a narcotics charge in Los Angeles and a DNA sample was taken. He was released, however, before his DNA was entered into the national database.
The defendant was re-arrested in January 2009 in Mexico City when a DNA check tied him to Conrad's death. It took 13 months to get him extradited to San Diego.