ABRAHAM CORDOVA left Guatemala for the U.S. at age 17, telling his mother and grandmother that he was going to make something of himself, his lawyer said in court yesterday.
But as an undocumented immigrant who didn't speak English and had no education, he instead fell into depression and alcoholism and - on April 11 of last year - viciously attacked a 63-year-old woman with brass knuckles during a home invasion.
The attack, at a Rhawnhurst apartment complex on Loretto Avenue near Borbeck, left the woman blind in her left eye.
Yesterday, Cordova, 27, who left his home country to escape a life of chopping sugar cane, was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in state prison by Common Pleas Judge Ann Butchart.
He had been arrested four days after the attack and, on Jan. 24, pleaded no contest to attempted murder, causing serious bodily injury, burglary, attempted rape and possession of an instrument of crime.
Public defender Conor Wilson, in arguing for a 3 1/2- to 15-year sentence, told Butchart that Cordova pleaded no contest in part to spare the victim the pain of having to testify at trial. Cordova never intended to kill or rape the victim, Wilson said, and a DUI from 2008 was his only other criminal infraction.
The night of the attack, Cordova had been drinking at a bar, later met a woman at a carryout restaurant and went home with her only to be enraged when she slammed her apartment door in his face, Wilson said.
He went outside and tried to climb through the woman's back window but instead climbed into the victim's apartment, Wilson said.
Through a Spanish interpreter, Cordova said: "I ask for pardon for what happened. I feel bad for that."
He said he will never drink alcohol again and that he has spent his time studying and in church while in jail awaiting sentencing.
Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp said he did try to rape the victim and the beating he gave her landed her in the hospital for several months. The woman was still too shaken to attend the hearing, the prosecutor said.
"This is a woman who, although she is now 64, is incredibly brave and strong," Kemp said. "Without her cooperation and insistence on justice in this case, we wouldn't be where we are today."