Man sentenced in 1995 murder of Caltech custodian on campus

Man sentenced in 1995 murder of Caltech custodian on campus
A man was sentenced Thursday to 25 years to life in prison for murdering a Caltech worker on campus in 1995. Above, Caltech. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

A man convicted in the only murder ever reported on the Caltech campus was sentenced Thursday to 25 years to life in prison.

In 1995, Raul Alcazar Romero fatally shot Francisco Javier Mora, a 36-year-old Caltech custodian who was having lunch with co-workers near a loading dock. Among the people in the group was a woman who was Romero's ex-wife and Mora's new girlfriend.

Romero fled the scene after firing six shots. He wasn't arrested in the U.S. until he was extradited from Mexico in 2012.

During the sentencing hearing, the victim's sister and niece both urged the judge not to grant Romero any mercy.

The niece, 32-year-old Teresa Vargaz-Mora of San Diego, said she lived in Mexico as a child and that Mora would go there once a month to bring her money, shoes and other gifts. He also brought the family gifts of canned goods, she said.

"Back then $20 was a lot of money for a little kid," Vargaz-Mora said. "He didn't have to do that, but he was a man of a big heart."

A handcuffed Romero teared up with his head bowed down as Vargaz-Mora addressed the judge.

"This man, he shot a warrior in the back," Vargaz-Mora said.

L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Dmitry Brodsky had sought a first-degree murder charge, but the jury convicted Romero of only second-degree murder. Brodsky had noted that Romero visited campus earlier the day of the murder and confronted Mora and the woman.

Romero also wrote a letter a year after the murder to his ex-wife, saying that he was not sorry and would do it again, according to the prosecutor.


Romero apologized in court Thursday, but Brodsky said it was "a general sorry" that wasn't clearly addressed to Mora's family members. Several of Romero's family members wrote letters to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Darrell Mavis before sentencing.

They said Romero hadn't done anything wrong once he returned to Mexico, where he had become a police officer.

A Caltech spokesman confirmed this week that no other homicides have ever been reported on the Pasadena campus.