A man who killed a New York woman whose body was found in a suitcase that was dumped in Connecticut is remorseful and understands he must serve a long prison sentence, his lawyers said in new court documents.
Javier Da Silva’s lawyers filed the documents Wednesday in federal court in White Plains, New York, in a bid for leniency. Da Silva is facing 30 years to life in prison at sentencing, scheduled for Sept. 23.
Da Silva, 26, pleaded guilty last year to kidnapping resulting in death in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Valerie Reyes, of New Rochelle, New York.
Reyes worked at a bookstore and aspired to become a tattoo artist, co-workers and friends said. Relatives have called for a life sentence for Da Silva.
Da Silva’s lawyers, Mark DeMarco and Jason Ser, submitted letters of support from Da Silva’s relatives and friends and described him as kind and remorseful.
“He understands the significant effect his conduct has and continues to have on Ms. Reyes’s family and acknowledges that this Court must sentence him to a substantial term of imprisonment,” the lawyers wrote.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on Da Silva’s sentencing documents Thursday. The office is expected to submit its sentencing recommendation next week.
Messages seeking comment were left with Reyes’ relatives.
Da Silva previously admitted that he and Reyes got into a violent fight at her apartment in late January 2019, about nine months after they broke up. During a court hearing last year, he said he bound her feet and arms, put tape over her mouth and put in her in a suitcase while she was still alive.
Da Silva said he dumped the suitcase in a wooded area of Greenwich, where it was found a week after the fight. A medical examiner said Reyes had suffocated and died of homicidal asphyxia.
Da Silva’s lawyers said he fled political and economic turmoil in his native Venezuela in 2017 to make a better life for himself in the U.S. He was living in New York City and worked as a short-order cook and cashier at a restaurant when he killed Reyes, according to court documents. Federal authorities say he overstayed his visa and was in the country illegally.