While her grandchildren slept in the next room, a 77-year-old woman was choked and beaten to death by her son, police said.
Then he allegedly tried to cover his tracks before calling 911 and blaming an intruder.
Pierce County prosecutors on Thursday charged Sebastian Levy-Aldrete, 49, with second-degree murder in the death of his mother, Maria Aldrete-Levy.
KIRO-TV reported she was the artistic administrator for the Tacoma Opera.
Her son pleaded not guilty at arraignment, and Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff set bail at $2 million.
Levy-Aldrete was arrested late Monday, hours after his mother was found dead in her bed and detectives discovered that his story didn’t match the evidence.
Medical examiners have not determined how Maria Aldrete-Levy died, but records show she suffered severe injuries to her head and face and had a fractured larynx.
The 911 call came about 5:30 a.m. Monday. By the time police arrived at the penthouse apartment shared by mother and son, Aldrete-Levy was dead.
Her two grandsons apparently slept through the slaying in their father’s bed.
Levy-Aldrete told officers he’d hit snooze on his alarm clock that morning but was later awakened by his mother screaming. When he got up to investigate, Levy-Aldrete said he saw someone leaving his mother’s bedroom.
“He said he grabbed the figure’s arm before feeling the figure grab his thumb, bending it back, causing him to release the arm,” according to charging papers.
The alleged intruder was able to escape.
Levy-Aldrete said he then picked up an item dropped by the intruder – a broken bottle – and went into his mother’s room.
He told police his mom was bleeding from the neck so he grabbed towels from a bathroom across the hall rather than a bathroom in the room.
Records show Aldrete-Levy suffered no injuries that would have caused her to bleed from the neck.
Detectives were almost immediately suspicious of Levy-Aldrete’s story, records show.
▪ They lived in a secure building on the fifth floor of a building in the 100 block of St. Helens Avenue and there were no signs of a break-in.
▪ A blood-soaked pair of gloves matching the description of a pair owned by Levy-Aldrete were found in a garbage can.
▪ Police found a Lysol wipe with blood on it in the parking garage. When asked about it, Levy-Aldrete said he’d used a wipe on his hands before calling 911 but discarded it in the bathroom.
▪ Nothing was stolen from the home, including a purse and wallet left sitting out.
▪ Also, officers said Levy-Aldrete “was sweating profusely and seemed nervous, and they noted that he had four superficial cuts on his forehead and the left side of his face,” records show.
No motive was given.
Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653