Crime

He says a psychopath killed his mother. Prosecutors say he did. Jurors will decide

Son suspected of killing 77-year-old mother makes court appearance

Maria Aldrete-Levy, a 77-year-old woman, was found dead in her Tacoma apartment on Oct. 16, 2017, and her son, Sebastian Samuel Levy-Aldrete, was arrested in connection with her death. Here he appears in Pierce County Superior Court in October 2017.
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Maria Aldrete-Levy, a 77-year-old woman, was found dead in her Tacoma apartment on Oct. 16, 2017, and her son, Sebastian Samuel Levy-Aldrete, was arrested in connection with her death. Here he appears in Pierce County Superior Court in October 2017.

Someone attacked 77-year-old Maria Aldrete-Levy in the face with a broken whiskey bottle and strangled her last year in the apartment she shared with her son in Tacoma’s Stadium District.

Pierce County prosecutors charged the son, 50-year-old Sebastian Levy-Aldrete, with first-degree murder in her death.

He says an intruder killed his mother, and that he struggled with and chased the killer, who got away.

Now jurors must decide.

Whatever love mother and son had for one another, deputy prosecutor Jesse Williams told jurors Thursday during his closing arguments, “It was not enough to save her life.”

The people we love most, he said, “have the capacity to wound us the deepest.”

In her closing arguments, defense attorney Sunni Ko played Levy-Aldrete’s 911 call, in which it sounds as if he’s sobbing as he tells a dispatcher there’s been a break-in and someone has killed his mother.

“I can’t stop the bleeding,” he says.

At some point during the call a dispatcher asks if Levy-Aldrete can think of anyone who would harm his mom.

“Jesus Christ no,” he says. “Everybody who knows my mother loves my mother.”

Williams rejected Levy-Aldrete’s account of an intruder.

“There was no boogyman,” the prosecutor said. “... For reasons maybe only he knows, the defendant murdered his mom.”

Possibly, he told jurors, because Levy-Aldrete apparently spent half of $20,000 his mother gave him to hold as a deposit for a house they planned to buy.

They were supposed to sign the closing papers Oct. 16, 2017, the day she was killed.

Williams argued it wasn’t an extensively planned attack, but was a premeditated one.

“This was not well orchestrated,” he said. “He was under a time crunch.”

The prosecutor also said the apartment building is safe, and that there were no signs of a break-in.

“I’m not here to tell you this building is Fort Knox,” Williams said. “It’s not.”

But every access point was locked when police arrived, he said.

The alleged intruder didn’t appear to be a burglar — he didn’t take anything, Williams said.

“Apparently he’s just a deranged psychopath,” the prosecutor said.

That’s not impossible, but it’s also not plausible, Willams argued.

He also said cuts to Levy-Aldrete’s face were self-inflicted as a cover-up, to match his account that he struggled with an intruder.

The cuts were straight and superficial, not deep and nonuniform like his mothers’, Williams said.

He also noted that a disinfectant wipe Levy-Aldrete said he used to get blood off his phone screen, so he could call 911, was found at the bottom of a stairwell at the apartment building.

That didn’t match Levy-Aldrete’s account of what happened, which was that he used the wipe once he returned to the apartment, after chasing the intruder, Williams said.

Instead, Williams contended that Levy-Aldrete used the wipe to clean off a recycling bin where he tossed a pair of blood-soaked gloves.

He also argued it didn’t make sense that Levy-Aldrete would chase an intruder, instead of immediately calling 911, and staying in the apartment, where his children were sleeping in another room.

“He had to leave the apartment to get rid of evidence,” Williams said.

Ko argued the attack was the work of a “crazed psychopathic killer,” and that it wasn’t hard to get into the building.

She told jurors there had been break-ins before, one of the doors didn’t close firmly, one sometimes was propped open with rocks and the garage door was slow to close.

And, she said, Levy-Aldrete had forgotten to lock the door to his unit that night.

She also argued the timing of the attack, about 5 a.m., didn’t make sense.

Earlier, before people were waking up, or later, when they had left the building, would make more sense, she said.

Ko also argued that Levy-Aldrete and his mother were very close and that she’d been giving him money for years. It didn’t make sense, Ko said, that she’d be so upset about finances that he’d kill her.

It also didn’t make sense that he’d kill her before they closed on the house, she said.

As for the location of the disinfectant wipe not matching the timeline of his account, Ko told jurors: “Maybe he just didn’t remember, because he was freaking out.”

The jury is expected to begin deliberating Friday.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell
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