After listening impassively while a daughter-in-law tearfully described the wounds left behind by the murders of Martha and Godofredo Moreno in their longtime south Wichita home, Steven Wade Edwards II was ordered on Wednesday to serve two life sentences plus more than 10 years in prison.
Edwards, 22, and an accomplice went to the Moreno home at 642 S. Ida to collect a debt from the couple’s son on Oct. 16, 2014, prosecutors have said. Edwards then shot Martha, 71, and Godofredo, 72, to death.
Sedgwick County District Court Judge Jeffrey Goering sentenced Edwards to two life sentences, with eligibility for parole after 25 years. Edwards was also sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary convictions in the case.
Goering also ordered Edwards to first serve nearly four years in prison for violation probation in a 2013 robbery case.
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More than a dozen relatives and friends of the slain couple stood quietly at one point in the hearing as a daughter-in-law read a statement.
“Martha and Godofredo did nothing to deserve the cruel act that was bestowed upon them,” she said, her voice choking with emotion at times. “There was no car accident, no terminal illness, or no act of God that took their lives. Instead, it was by those that had complete free will” and used that will to make a decision that should be in God’s hands alone.
“Their last moments in life were in confusion, terror, panic and horror,” she continued. “All this happening within their own home, a safe and comfortable place, a place that was once filled with years of wonderful memories but now stands as a place that no longer holds joy but now holds despair.”
The murders have had an “agonizing and devastating” impact on the loved ones left behind, she said.
“How do you tell a 7-year-old child that his abeulita he loved and adored has been murdered?” she asked. “How do you explain murder, real-life murder, to a 7-year-old?
“How do you reassure them of their own safety? Even after two years, that same child still asks why.”
One “why” question is particularly difficult to answer.
“Why, out of everybody in the world, did they have to choose my abuelita?”
While family members will never be able to comprehend or understand why the killing happened, “we pray some healing will come some day,” the daughter-in-law said.
“Hopefully, this day will help in the healing process,” she said. “But, like any large wound, it will leave a nasty, everlasting scar as a reminder the rest of our lives.”
Court-appointed defense attorney Mark Sevart said Edwards plans to appeal the conviction since Goering had denied the defendant’s request to withdraw a guilty plea as part of a plea agreement.
Edwards’ accomplice, Carlos Delacadena-Edwards, 19, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree intentional murder and one count of aggravated robbery. He was sentenced in November to serve more than 27 years in prison.