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A man who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting of a Burger King restaurant manager has been sentenced to life in prison.
Jose Mejia-Varela, 22, was sentenced Thursday in Frederick County Circuit Court. The News-Post of Frederick reports that he pleaded guilty in December to shooting 32-year-old Jacinta "Patty" Ayala in March 2011.
Ayala was an assistant manager at a Burger King located at 1302 E. Patrick Street in Frederick. The mother of three was fatally shot as she opened the restaurant.
Coworkers found her and performed CPR on her until police and EMS arrived, but Ayala was pronounced dead at the scene.
Prosecutors said the motive was robbery.
A former manager at the store, [Mejia-Varela] knew that an access hatch on the roof would be unlocked, [Deputy State's Attorney Nanci] Hamm said. He jumped on a garbage bin, then to the roof and slid through the hatch and into the manager's office.
At about 5:25 a.m., Mejia-Varela tried to open the safe, but his access code had been disabled, according to prosecutors. The computer didn't record what numbers were entered, only that an attempt to open the safe had failed.
....Eight minutes later, at 5:33 a.m., the safe at the Burger King was opened using her code.
Mejia-Varela's attorneys had asked for a 35-year sentence, while prosecutors had originally sought life without parole after they spoke with Ayala's family.
Mejia-Varela will only be eligible for parole if it's granted by the governor.