[Ed. – Let the punishment fit the crime.]
For the ninth time, Maria Reyes slipped into the witness stand in a Fairfax County courtroom to confront one of the MS-13 associates who abducted her 15-year-old daughter, brutally tortured her, then left her broken body face down in a puddle.
Reyes stared unflinching at Venus Romero Iraheta, 18, a few feet away, at her sentencing hearing Friday. Iraheta had orchestrated the killing of Damaris Reyes Rivas, telling the Gaithersburg teen she would see her in hell before plunging a hunting knife into her repeatedly in January 2017.
The mother wiped away tears with bubblegum pink nails as she described the 18-hour days she worked to bring Damaris to the United States from El Salvador, the joy of reuniting with her and the devastation of burying her in her quinceañara dress.
Finally, she told a prosecutor she had one final message.
“I want to say to this young lady that she destroyed my life. She destroyed the life of my daughter. She didn’t owe anything to you,” Reyes said through a translator. “My daughter is not in hell, as she said. She’s in heaven. She has shown me that in my dreams. … Hell will be lived by you, not by her.”