WORCESTER, Mass. -- A delivery driver charged with killing a Google employee from New York who went missing while out for a run near her mother's Massachusetts home six years ago pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Wednesday.
Angelo Colon-Ortiz's plea in the Aug. 7, 2016, death of Vanessa Marcotte, 27, came just days after the death of the victim's father, John Marcotte, 71.
“Regardless of the medical reason stated on his death certificate, he died of a broken heart caused by deep and endless grief,” Vanessa's mother, Rossana Marcotte, said in an impact statement she read in court.
Colon-Ortiz’s attorney, Eduardo Masferrer, said in court that his client is remorseful.
Colon-Ortiz had originally pleaded not guilty in the death of Marcotte, whose body was found in a wooded area about a half-mile from her mother’s house in the small town of Princeton, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Boston.
Under an agreement that also included a guilty plea to a charge of unarmed robbery, the 36-year-old Colon-Ortiz will not be eligible for parole for 45 years, according to the office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr.
“We know nothing can bring Vanessa back, but we know, through the meticulous work of the prosecutors and investigators involved, justice will be served, and the plea allows Vanessa’s family to move on from this tragedy,” Early said in a statement.
The Marcotte family agreed to the deal to spare themselves the ordeal of a trial, prosecutors said.
“We are thankful and gratified the legal process has accomplished what we always wished for, that this man will now be in a place where he can’t hurt anyone else like the way he hurt Vanessa,” Marcotte's family said in a statement released by the district attorney's office.
Rossana Marcotte said the death of her only child has robbed her of a lifetime of milestone moments.
“The brutal and evil actions of the defendant will have an everlasting effect on my life," she said. “I will never be able to experience Vanessa's future achievements in her career or personal life. I will never see her in her wedding gown. I will never have the pleasure of being a devoted grandmother to her children. And as I age, I will never be comforted or cared for by Vanessa."
Vanessa Marcotte, who worked as an account manager for Google, was visiting family in Massachusetts and had gone out for a run several hours before she was found.
She was found partially clothed with burn marks on her body, and an autopsy determined that she had been strangled during a struggle, prosecutors said. No motive was discussed in court.
Colon-Ortiz, who lived in nearby Worcester, worked as a delivery driver at the time of the killing and was familiar with Princeton and the surrounding area, prosecutors have said.
They said Colon-Ortiz’s DNA matched DNA found underneath Marcotte’s fingernails. He was arrested in April 2017 and has been held without bail since pleading not guilty in July 2017 to charges including attempted rape, which was not included in the deal announced Wednesday.
Colon-Ortiz’s lawyers asked a judge earlier this year to dismiss as evidence the DNA samples collected by state police in March 2017. They argued the samples were obtained illegally because the authorities didn't have a warrant, didn't send a trooper with adequate Spanish skills to help translate, and a did not properly translate a consent form explaining Colon-Ortiz's rights. The judge denied the motion.
Marcotte graduated from Boston University in 2011, according to her obituary, which said she landed her “dream job” at Google in 2015 after working for Wordstream and Vistaprint.
She enjoyed spending summers on Cape Cod, hiking, yoga, skiing and running, and participated in the Falmouth Road Race several times, the obituary said. She was also a volunteer tutor in Massachusetts and New York City.
“Vanessa embodied everything that is good in a human being," the obituary read. “She was kind, compassionate, bright, curious, charming, and vivacious. She was blessed with beauty, grace, a generous spirit, and a loving heart.”
Marcotte's legacy lives on in the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation, established in 2017 by friends and family to train women in self-defense, and educate them on violence prevention, runner safety, boundary setting and healthy relationships.