Miguel Cano was just thirteen years old when he murdered his mother. According to court documents Cano who had planned the brutal murder well ahead of time would fatally stab his mother before sticking her body underneath the house which was found the next day by a contractor. Miguel lawyers had been fighting to get him declared mentally incompetent due to a autism diagnosis. In the end the teen killer would plead guilty and would be sentenced to twenty three years in prison.
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A South Carolina teen who was 13 years old when he stabbed his mother to death has been sentenced to 23 years in an adult prison for the crime.
Miguel Cano apologized at the Greenville County courthouse Monday for the “horrible, evil thing” he did to his mother in their Simpsonville home in September 2015.
Isabel Zuluaga, 44, was stabbed in the chest, face and neck. One stab wound went all the way through her chest and into the mattress she was laying on in her son’s room, Solicitor Walt Wilkins said.
Wilkins asked for a significant sentence because Cano, now 17, told investigators he planned the brutal attack and thought about killing other people, too.
“There are many people that my crime impacted very negatively, and to you I am sorry. I am not happy to have hurt you. Some have lost a good friend. Others, a good family member, and I am ashamed to have caused it,” Cano said, according to media reports.
Cano’s lawyers said he had trouble controlling his emotions and was diagnosed with autism after his arrest. They had sought to have him found mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Zuluaga’s body was found by a contractor who came to the house to work. When he didn’t get an answer at the door, the contractor went under the house and found Cano sitting there and blood dripping down from the floor.
Cano said he killed his mother the night before. Bloody paper towels were found around her body.
A judge ruled last year that Cano could be tried as an adult on a murder charge, which carried a possible sentence of 30 years to life in prison. Prosecutors accepted a plea deal to voluntary manslaughter, which carried two to 30 years behind bars. If Cano had been tried and convicted as a juvenile, he couldn’t have been kept in prison after he turned 21.
Public Defender Christopher Scalzo asked for a 13-year sentence because of Cano’s age and autism.
Family members and friends also testified Monday, saying Cano was smart and liked to play soccer, but also seemed to enjoy violence and had talked about murder.
Cano read his apology in court in a clear, calm voice.
“I’ll continue to try my best to be a better person, not just during my incarceration, but as long as I live,” Cano said.
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A Greenville teen accused in the gruesome stabbing death of his mother was sentenced to 23 years behind bars.
Miguel Cano was 13 when his 44-year-old mother, Isabel Cristina Zuluaga, 44, was killed Aug. 31, 2015. Officials said she was stabbed more than 28 times in their home.
Charged as an adult, Cano, now 17, pleaded guilty last week to the murder of his mother.
Prosecutors, led by 13th Circuit Solicitor Walter Wilkins, asked for the maximum sentence of 30 years. Monday, Judge Letitia Verdin sentenced Cano to 23 years in prison.
“We were trying to get a result that is satisfactory to our society at the time and moment that we’re in right now and I think that we did that through light of discussion, conversation, argument and presentation,” Wilkins said.
Sheriff Steve Loftis said at the time of Cano’s arrest, a contractor, who was in a crawl space under Zuluaga’s house on Hipps Avenue on Sept. 1, 2015, saw Cano sitting under the house. After talking to him, the contractor said he asked Cano to leave.
The contractor said that after Miguel Cano left, he continued to crawl under the home, and he saw blood coming through cracks in the floor. He said he went into the house and found Zuluaga’s body in a bedroom. (To read the contractor’s firsthand account, click here)
Deputies found the boy a few hours later walking along Woodruff Road, headed toward Spartanburg County. Loftis said after Cano was in custody he “readily admitted to stabbing his mother the night before” after he was in custody.
The 17-year-old spoke Monday afternoon in court.
“There are many people that my crime impacted very negatively, and to you, I am sorry,” he said. “I am not happy to have hurt you. Some have lost a good friend. Others, a good family member, and I am ashamed to have caused it.”
Verdin expressed sympathy for the family.
“I will tell you,” she said. “This is probably the most difficult case I’ve ever had.”
Cano’s defense team argued his Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis was partly to blame for the way he acted during the crime.
“He certainly didn’t have the ability to kind of take a look at himself and look at his own deficits,” said public defender Christopher Scalzo, who represented Cano on Monday.
Loftis said Miguel Cano told deputies that he went to bed after killing his mother. He said when the contractor arrived in the morning, it startled him and he hid under the home.
Loftis said there were defensive wounds on Zuluaga’s body. He said she was about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and her son is about the same height.
The sheriff, said that at the time of Cano’s arrest, he showed no remorse and did not give a motive for the stabbing.
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