CICERO, Ill. (STMW) – A Cicero grandmother was sentenced to 44 years in prison Monday for orchestrating a vicious sulfuric acid attack against a Logan Square square social worker who became romantically involved with her common-law-husband.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger Reports
In a booming voice, Cook County Judge Nicholas Ford chastised Ofelia Garcia, 60, for the “brutality and heartlessness” of the July 28, 2008, incident that burned 25 percent of Esperanza Medina’s body and severely disfigured the social worker’s face.
Ford told Garcia that while she may have caused Medina physical harm, she didn’t do a “damn thing to harm” to Medina’s inside.
“The quality of a person is not based on their appearance but their words and conduct,” Ford said.
The judge, who noted that he didn’t give Garcia the maximum 45-year prison sentence because of her lack of criminal history, then looked at Medina, who described herself as an “ex-victim” in her victim impact statement.
“I encourage you to fight,” Ford told Medina, 50, as she dabbed her eyes with a tissue.
Earlier, Medina’s daughter Lissette Medina, 29, read her mother’s three-page statement, detailing the physical, emotional and financial pain she suffered after three juveniles recruited by Garcia threw the acid on her, hit her with a bat and stole her purse as she tried to leave for work.
“I cannot even begin to describe it. You would need to feel the pain to understand it, but it made me cry so much,” Lissette Medina said, reading her mother’s words about her painful skin grafts.
“At the same time. I knew I was not crying but howling like a hurt animal, not a human being. . . .The pain was so bad at that time, I just wanted to die. . . .”
Esperanza Medina also described the struggles of performing everyday tasks, such as eating a hamburger, dressing and brushing her teeth.
Esperanza Medina said she became so depressed, she tried to overdose twice.
“I was not ashamed because I looked different, but because people’s stares tell me that I was different and that I did not belong there,” Lissette Medina said, reading from the statement.
Garcia did not make a statement before Ford Monday.
Esperanza Medina, who was dressed in jeans and jean jacket, said she was “very happy” with the judge’s decision.
“This is the part I was waiting for,” she said, smiling.
“. . . I’m not a victim anymore. I’m an ex-victim now.”
Lissette Medina said she read the statement for her mother because the font on the sheets were too small and because it would be too emotional.
“I was trying to be her voice,” Lissette Medina said.
Esperanza Medina’s 75-year-old mother, who helped nursed her, hugged her daughter before they stepped out of the courthouse at 26th and California.
“She’s a strong girl,” Lucia Peralta said.
Garcia’s co-defendant Maria Olvera-Garcia, is expected to be sentenced Wednesday.
A third woman charged in the attack, Linda Dirzo, died while awaiting trial.
Two of the teens involved pleaded guilty to heinous battery. The third teen, who acted as lookout, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery.
Olvera-Garcia faces sentencing on Wednesday.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)