Hall County Rape and Murder of 4 Year Old, Defendant Pleads Guilty

In a story on March 13, 2008, Cornelio Zamites will plead guilty to the rape and murder in Georgia of a 4-year-old girl. Zamites agreed to avoid the death penalty and the district attorney agreed on this plea to secure a conviction.

Through an interpreter, Esmeralda’s father Jesus Lopez Rios told Judge Kathlene Gosselin, “I live blaming myself sometimes because my daughter needed me as a father and I could not help her.”

The girl’s killer, Cornelio Rivera Zamites, 28, pleaded guilty Thursday to murder, rape, kidnapping with bodily injury, and other offenses and was sentenced by Gosselin to life without the possibility of parole, plus three consecutive life sentences, plus 20 years.

Zamites agreed in writing that he would never appeal his Georgia sex crime and murder sentence. He declined to address the court.

Lee Darragh, Hall County District Attorney said, “for me to close this case through this guilty plea to ensure that Cornelio Zamites never sees the light of freedom again.”

Lee added that he was hesitant to agree to the plea deal but was worried about the trial going to a jury and Zamites possibly being found mentally retarded.

Regarding this decision, Darraghs said, “… has been especially difficult for me. The acts of the defendant clearly justify the defendant being put to death by lethal injection.”

“There isn’t a day or night in which I don’t think of how my daughter would be today,” Rios said. Today is a day in which I find myself more tranquil because justice will be served,” Rios said.

The girl’s mother said she could not, “find in my heart forgiveness for this person. He has caused irreparable damage to me and my whole family … but knowing that he will never get out of jail gives me a little bit of peace of mind for me and my family.”

Sex crimes involving homicide are the most serious crimes punishable by the death penalty. If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime in Georgia do not attempt to face these charges on your own. You need an experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyer who can help you during this difficult time.


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