TORRANCE, Calif. – A man who killed his newlywed wife by throwing her off a cliff in suburban Los Angeles was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Thursday.
Brandon Manai was convicted in December of first-degree murder for killing 24-year-old Julie Rosas in 2005. She was found dead less than three weeks after the couple were married in Las Vegas.
Manai had denied being at the Rancho Palos Verdes cliff top, but cellular phone records placed him there. At the sentencing hearing, he said cared about his wife but was very selfish because he didn't call for help.
"I would never hurt your sister," he told Rosas' brother and sister at the sentencing hearing. "I didn't kill your sister. I didn't throw her off a cliff. It was an accident."
Rosas' brother, Cuatemol Evodio, told the judge that Manai was a monster who had selfishly ended his sister's life. Her sister, Xochitl Evodio, said she is still mourning the loss.
"My sister was so suddenly ripped out of my life and I will never get used to this," Evodio said. "I, some days, sit in my room in disbelief and cannot accept the fact that she will never be with us again."
Prosecutors said the 28-year-old Manai is a violent man who was convicted in 1999 of beating and choking a girlfriend who tried to break up with him. Detectives believe Rosas had approached Manai about a divorce or an annulment.
Manai's attorney, Jenny Cheng, said there was no evidence that Manai killed Rosas and that she likely slipped down the 100 foot cliff.
The judge ordered Manai not to contact Rosas' family. He wrote to her sister last month, asking for photos of him and Rosas together and offering to return her belongings "from the night of her accidental fall."
"I'm not a person who would kill anyone," he wrote. "Julie and I got along great with minor problems."