A San Francisco man was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison Thursday for fatally strangling and beating his ex-girlfriend in her Mission District apartment.
Rickey Roberts, 60, was convicted in June of second-degree murder and criminal threats but acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of Olga Diaz Clark.
Roberts allegedly entered Clark’s apartment in the Mission Dolores Senior Apartments complex on Dec. 13, 2015, and began yelling and choking her and punching her in the head, according to prosecutors.
Clark lost consciousness in the attack, but was later able to wake up and contact a security guard and police. She fell into a coma and died at the hospital three days later.
Prosecutors said Roberts had threatened to kill Clark repeatedly in the months leading up to her death.
“The defendant, over time, stripped Ms. Diaz-Clark of her right to live her life in peace,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “Domestic violence is not a crime that only occurs in the shadows; it’s visible and intervention is possible. If you’re living under constant threat, or know someone who is, please reach out. You’re not alone.”
Roberts’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Phong Wang, sought a new trial for Roberts on grounds that Diaz-Clark’s killing was voluntary manslaughter in the heat of passion, and not murder.
Judge Carol Yaggy, however, did not grant a new trial, because Roberts in his initial statement to police denied beating Diaz-Clark and there was no evidence to support that the killing was in the heat of passion.
After his sentencing, a victim advocate with the District Attorney’s Office read letters from Diaz-Clark’s family members to the court, including one from her daughter Karina.
“All she (Diaz-Clark) wanted was love, that was priceless to her. She thought she had found it in someone and made an effort to keep it going,” the letter said. “She tried until her last breath and her spirit was taken from her. That’s how much love meant to her.”
Roberts also wrote a letter to Diaz-Clark’s family, apologizing for the pain he’s caused them. Wang read the letter to the court on his behalf.
“Every day I have to live with and feel the pain I’ve caused. I have great remorse that will stay for the rest of my life… I did not mean for Olga’s death,” Roberts said in the letter.
He also apologized for leaving threatening messages on Diaz-Clark’s voicemail, saying in the letter, “I was intoxicated and when my lawyer played them for me I was shocked. They should not have been left for Olga and no one should have heard those words. They are not me. I take responsibility for my actions and I apologize for them.”
-Bay City News reporter Daniel Montes contributed to this story