A Kentucky man charged with killing a Murray State University student last year was sentenced Thursday to 40 years in prison.
Julius Sotomayor Jr., 23, of Almo, learned of his punishment Thursday afternoon before Special Judge David Buckingham in Calloway Circuit Court.
Sotomayor had pleaded guilty to murder, theft and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the March 2021 death of Sarah Townsend, a 21-year-old Murray State student from Farmville, Virginia.
Townsend was found shot to death in a ditch in southern Calloway County in the early morning hours of March 26, 2021.
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With help from “various intelligence services,” Kentucky State Police learned Townsend’s vehicle, a Toyota Camry, was seen on traffic cameras in central Georgia.
Detectives later determined the Toyota Camry was back in Kentucky, and they located the suspect, Sotomayor, near his home in rural Calloway County, with Townsend's Toyota Camry found nearby, state police said last year in a news release.
Murray State President Bob Jackson told the campus community in a message last year that Townsend was "a student majoring in pre-veterinary medicine/animal/veterinary technology and a Residential Advisor at College Court Apartments."
“Murray State University is one Racer family and this loss is felt deeply by all of us," Jackson said last year.
During a court hearing last year, Kentucky State Police Detective Trevor Pervine said investigators learned that Sotomayor was a friend of Townsend’s and was the last person who had been seen with her before she went missing, The Murray Ledger reported.
Pervine reportedly testified Sotomayor admitted to shooting Townsend multiple times and fleeing south toward Georgia before returning to Kentucky.
As for a possible motive, the detective reportedly said Sotomayor shared "that he wanted to kill himself."
“He said that he was sitting in the driver’s seat and she was in the passenger seat and wanted to kill himself," Pervine reportedly said. "She wouldn’t let him, so he killed her instead."
Buckingham, the judge, reportedly said during the hearing Thursday that he had "seen and sentenced various individuals for murder down through the years, but this one does have to be one of the most senseless that I’ve ever seen.”
Sotomayor also spoke to the court at his sentencing hearing, according to The Murray Ledger.
"First, I would just like to say I’m sorry, and I apologize to the family,” Sotomayor said. “I pray for you all every night and I know there’s nothing I can do to make this right, and I’m sincerely sorry. This was my best friend. I dearly loved Sarah, and I really do apologize, and I hope you all can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
Reach Billy Kobin at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky man sentenced in Virginia student's murder case