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Man gets 25 years to life in murder of Torrance woman

Photo: Tony Lopez Perez, left, and Cori Desmond. Credit: KTLA Tony Lopez Perez was sentenced Monday to 25 years to life in prison for the 2009 murder of Cori Daye Desmond, a South Bay waitress whom authorities said Perez killed after she refused his advances.

Investigators said Perez, 37, of Redondo Beach, at the time the manager of a Santa Monica restaurant and with no felony record, encountered Desmond, 28, of Torrance about 2 a.m. Feb. 15, 2009, as she was leaving a Redondo Beach bar where she once worked.

Desmond's body, wrapped in plastic trash bags, was later found dumped in a snowbank near Highway 330 in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Perez pleaded not guilty to murder after his arrest in October 2009. He was convicted in July. The sentencing hearing Monday before San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge J. David Mazurek included emotional statements from Perez, his former girlfriend and Cori Desmond's father, according to Christopher Lee, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County district attorney's office.

In an impact statement Mark Desmond shared with The Times, he called Perez a "liar, rapist and murderer" and "the epitome of evil."

"The thought of what happened haunts me," Desmond said. "She had a beautiful future ahead of her, if she had been given the chance. Are you hearing this, Tony?"

Perez read a statement in which he appeared to admit his role in the slaying for the first time and apologized to both the victim's family and his own, Mark Desmond and Lee said.

In an interview with The Times, Mark Desmond dismissed Perez's statement, noting that he delivered it without looking at the Desmond family and that he failed to watch a video about Cori Desmond that they presented during the hearing.

"He's not showing true remorse," Monica Desmond, Cori's stepmother, told The Times.

Mark Desmond said he had thought the pain he felt after his daughter's death would end when Perez was convicted, but he has realized during the last month that it's something he will struggle with for the rest of his life.

"I'm just glad he's put away and he won't harm anybody else’s daughter or child," he said.


Friends, family remember slain Torrance woman

Torrance slaying victim's life was in flux, kin say

Man arrested in death of Torrance woman whose body was found near Running Springs

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Tony Lopez Perez, left, and Cori Desmond. Credit: KTLA

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