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Family members of murder victim Madeline J. Brisson, whose body was discovered in a freezer at her home on Gold Star Highway in Groton two years ago, wept as her killer was sentenced to 28½ years in prison Friday in New London Superior Court.
Luis Otero, 52, had pleaded no contest to murder after initially notifying the court that he wanted a trial. At his sentencing, he chose not to make a statement to Judge Patrick J. Clifford. His attorney, Bruce A. Sturman, simply noted that the sentence was "agreed upon" and asked the judge to impose it.
Brisson's mother and sisters also remained silent, though they had told a probation officer during a presentencing interview that Brisson's death haunts them and that they continue to experience unspeakable grief and anguish.
Ethel Rogers, a close friend of Brisson's, said Otero gave no indication that he was sorry.
"I didn't see any remorse at all from him," Rogers said.
Brisson, 50, and Otero had dated, and he was living with her at 1184 Gold Star Highway to help her cover the rent, according to police. He turned himself in on March 7, 2010, saying he had put a body in the freezer. Brisson's body was frozen solid, according to police, and the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner could not immediately determine the cause and manner of her death.
The office later ruled that Brisson was a homicide victim who had died of blunt traumatic injuries and asphyxia.
Prosecutor Paul J. Narducci said the state's case had some weaknesses due to the nature of Brisson's death and that Otero could have mounted a "colorable defense" on the cause of death. Under the circumstances, Narducci said, the sentence was fair, though he was aware the victim's family was not pleased.
Judge Clifford said his heart went out to the family.
"There's no number that seems fair to you," Clifford said. "At 52 years of age, this might turn out to be a life sentence."
As judicial marshals led Otero back to the courthouse lockup, someone among the victim's family members uttered, "Rot."
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Otero told a friend that five days earlier, Brisson had told him she was having Otero's daughter move into the house and that he had to move out, implying that the women were going to be lovers.
Otero told the friend that he "'flipped out,'" the warrant said. "... This caused (the friend) to ask Otero if Madeline was 'still with us.' Otero replied, 'No.'"
Otero called his sister the same day and relayed a similar story, the warrant said.
He told his sister he was going to turn himself in to police and that he was "having nightmares about what he had done," the warrant said.