Houston-area man gets life term in 1982 slaying of girlfriend

April 26, 2013 10:38:57 AM PDT
A Houston-area man has been sentenced to life in prison for the 1982 slaying of his girlfriend in a case reopened years after her death.

A jury in Houston on Thursday sentenced 65-year-old Manuel Richard Pena after convicting him of murder. Prosecutors say Pena strangled 19-year-old Sherri Strong and made it look like she killed herself.

Investigators say Strong was found dead on June 16, 1982, in Pena's garage. The Harris County Sheriff's Office says Pena told authorities that Strong hanged herself and he put her body on the floor before calling for help.

Cold case investigators reopened the case after reviewing Pena's violent criminal history since 1982. He was arrested in 2011 and convicted Wednesday.

The defense said Strong was depressed after believing Pena's ex-wife wanted a reconciliation.
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