TAMPA — As her father lay on his death bed, Georgia Fonseca remembers a promise her mother's boyfriend made to the dying man. He would take care of her, and her sister, and her mother.
Alexander Cote-Ferrer broke that promise in the worst way.
On Aug. 8, 2010, he killed the mother, 50-year-old Danitza Fonseca, in front of her two teenage daughters. He used a machete.
Georgia, who was 16 at the time, remembers him smirking.
She searched for a weapon to stop him, but only found a broom.
On Friday, the 19-year-old told a judge she wanted to see him go to prison for the rest of his life, because she is afraid of him, and has a hard time trusting people, and doesn't know what they're capable of anymore.
He took her mother away from her, and now she and her sister are on their own, and they both recently had baby boys their mother would never meet.
"It was hard being in labor without my mom's support," Georgia said. "It was hard experiencing motherhood without somebody like my mom around." On a court bench outside, a victim's advocate fed her baby a bottle.
Georgia watched her 21-year-old sister speak about how Cote-Ferrer got meaner over the years, how he made sexual advances on them, then lied about it and never got in trouble.
"I have a hard time loving anybody," Jennifer Fonseca said.
The sisters sat together toward the back of the courtroom when Cote-Ferrer stood to speak.
"I want them to forgive me," he said through an interpreter, "for having killed their mother."
Georgia didn't want an apology. She wanted to know why.
Georgia watched Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente decide.
"It was an extremely violent crime," the judge said. "This lady was hacked with a machete while she was conscious, numerous times. She received massive wounds. She lived for a period of time. … There is no doubt, in this court's mind, that she experienced pain, anticipation. Unable to defend herself, she suffered greatly."
Georgia heard the judge sentence him to 50 years in prison. He is a 42-year-old man. Should he live to see freedom, he will serve 10 years of probation.
It was finally done. As she walked out of the courtroom, Georgia felt a rush that left her in tears.
It felt like her mother, she said, "like she can finally be at peace."
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3354.