LOS ANGELES – LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former caregiver convicted of torturing, taunting and body-slamming frail and elderly patients at an upscale California retirement home was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.
Cesar Ulloa, 21, was convicted in April of one count of torture and seven counts of elder abuse. He was sentenced in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Van Nuys to life on the torture conviction and six additional years for the elder abuse.
"I wish you suffer forever," Rita Kittower, 86, told Ulloa before sentencing. She condemned him as a "cruel, evil caretaker" who inflicted "sadistic animal-like torture" on her late husband.
The day after her husband was buried, Kittower got a call from the mother of a worker at the Calabasas home who said her husband was beaten to death.
His body was exhumed and dozens of broken bones were found. An autopsy concluded he suffered months of abuse and blunt force trauma contributed to his death.
"I can't get it out of my mind what he did to my husband," Kittower said after the sentencing.
Ulloa did not react as relatives addressed the court. He did nod at his family, seated in the back of the courtroom, as he was taken out.
Ulloa is eligible for parole but it was not immediately known how long he would have to serve, said district attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison. She said he will serve the six years for elder abuse, then his life sentence begins.
Witnesses testified that Ulloa body-slammed a mute 78-year-old woman, leaped from a dresser and landed both knees in an elderly man's stomach and told another patient he was "sexing his daughter."
Silverado Senior Living residents, many suffering from dementia and other debilitating illnesses, were unable to report the abuse.
Ulloa was responsible for bathing residents and escorting them around the retirement home, where relatives of residents pay $70,000 and up a year.
"He attacked the most vulnerable people, and he laughed while doing it. This was sport for him," Deputy District Attorney Robin Allen told jurors during Ulloa's trial.
He was once named employee of the month at the center.
Defense attorney Daniel Teola denied that Ulloa ever abused the residents. He argued that the center does not restrain or sedate patients, so combative residents are more prone to injury.
"You're going to have bruises," he said. "You're going to have fractures."
He blamed co-workers for spreading false rumors because they were jealous of Ulloa getting the employee of the month honor.
The retirement home has denied any wrongdoing.
Ulloa was fired from the senior center for unrelated reasons and has been jailed since being arrested in 2008.