Crime

Tacoma man sentenced for mother’s ‘horrible, agonizing death’

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.

Sebastian Levy-Aldrete maintained his innocence Friday, as he was sentenced to decades in prison for the gruesome attack that killed his mother last year at the apartment they shared in Tacoma’s Stadium District.

“A man who is still at large killed my mother,” the 50-year-old told the court. “I am sitting in his handcuffs, and I am going to his prison, and that’s not right.”

Jurors did not accept his contention that a psychopathic intruder attacked 77-year-old Maria Aldrete-Levy in the face with a broken whiskey bottle and strangled her Oct. 16, 2017.

Last month they convicted him of second-degree murder, for which Pierce County Superior Court Judge Jerry Costello gave him a high-end sentence of 20 years, four months in prison.

Levy-Aldrete called 911 to report his mother’s death, and told investigators he struggled with the killer and chased him.

Prosecutors argued the evidence didn’t support that.

They told jurors Levy-Aldrete had spent half of $20,000 his mother had given him to hold as a deposit for a house they planned to buy. They were to close on a house the day she died.

Levy-Aldrete told Costello his mother had been his best friend, and his roommate for seven years. They were excited about the new house, and had the money they needed to close, he said.

She moved after his divorce, he said, and helped out as a live-in babysitter for his two young sons, who were asleep in the apartment when she was attacked.

“I don’t know who did this,” he said of her killing. “I only know that I didn’t.”

Family and friends wrote the court that they continue to believe in Levy-Aldrete’s innocence. They said he and his mother were very close, and that he was a respected member of the Tacoma business community — he managed the University of Washington Tacoma bookstore. She was the artistic director at the Tacoma Opera.

A few who knew him wrote about times they’d seen his temper.

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Maria Aldrete-Levy, left, with her son Sebastian Levy-Aldrete. Courtesy photo Aldrete family

Costello said he had never seen so many letters from the community arguing that a defendant was wrongfully convicted.

“I doubt that they could ever be persuaded of his guilt,” the judge said.

But Costello said he believes Levy-Aldrete got a fair trial, and that his “presumption of innocence was erased” by the verdict.

“One of the very sad consequences of your crime,” he noted, “is the potentially irrevocable damage that you have caused to your relationship with your boys.”

He said Levy-Aldrete appeared to have done a good job as a parent, had been a productive member of the community and had no criminal history.

But Aldrete-Levy “suffered a horrible, agonizing death” that was “grotesquely violent,” Costello said, which overwhelms her son’s good deeds.

“She supported the defendant emotionally and financially,” the judge said. “How was her loyalty repaid?”

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Alexis Krell covers local, state and federal court cases that affect Pierce County. She started covering courts in 2016. Before that she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as The News Tribune’s night reporter.


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