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Murderer-Rapist Is Given Life Sentence

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A man with a history of violence against women was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for raping and strangling an aspiring 18-year-old Oxnard mariachi singer nearly three years ago.

Corrie Robinson, 28, was sentenced at a hearing before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Cesar Sarmiento. He was convicted of rape and murder in a five-week jury trial that ended in December.

“This is the harshest sentence that could have been handed down, and I believe the judge based his decision on the violent nature of the defendant’s past and the viciousness, calculation, cruelty and premeditation of this crime,” said Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve Giedzinski.

Robinson, a former Oxnard resident who worked as an escort service operator, was also convicted of the special circumstance of killing during the course of a rape, which made him eligible for the death penalty.

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Prosecutors chose not to pursue capital punishment, Giedzinski said.

Gloria De La Cruz, who lived in the community of El Rio, was last seen attending a party in Oxnard with friends on the night of April 21, 1996.

The next day, her burned body was found inside a garbage receptacle in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles.

Authorities believe Robinson, who once dated De La Cruz, raped her in the garage of his grandmother’s Oxnard house and then choked her to death before putting her body in the trunk of a car and driving to Los Angeles.

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At the garbage receptacle, he apparently poured gasoline on the body and set it on fire. De La Cruz’s body was so badly burned, it took 17 days to identify, Giedzinski said. Robinson was arrested in January 1997.

Although he denied the killing, Robinson was convicted on circumstantial evidence that included his DNA and matching semen and blood found on the victim.

During the sentencing hearing, De La Cruz’s mother, also named Gloria De La Cruz, and her sister, Corina Arenas, addressed the judge.

“Her mother talked about how much pain she had been through and how the defendant made it worse by smiling and winking and giving her and the family the thumbs-up at trial,” Giedzinski said, adding that Robinson continued such gestures even after sentencing.

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As a juvenile, Robinson spent more than five years in the California Youth Authority for beating up his girlfriend while she was holding their young child. He was also placed in a county-run boys’ home at age 17 for raping and choking his stepmother.


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