Judge Hears Testimony Ahead of Girlfriend Killer's Sentencing

Raul Barrera admitted to killing his 23-year-old girlfriend in their Lower East Side apartment last year

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    A judge will decide a convicted killer's sentence after a pre-sentencing hearing in which a neighbor's frantic 911 call was played. John Noel has the story. (Published Friday, Sep 28, 2012)

    A judge will have to decide how to sentence admitted killer Raul Barrera after hearing evidence Friday of how Barrera stabbed his 23-year-old girlfriend to death in their Lower East Side apartment last year.

    A witness testified in Manhattan Criminal Courthouse that the screams she heard coming from Barrera and Sarah Coit's apartment on April 11, 2011 were so frightening she called 911.

    In the recording played for the judge Friday, the caller tells the dispatcher, "There is a woman screaming like she is being hurt." 

    When police arrived at the Clinton Street building that early Sunday morning, they found Coit stabbed at least a dozen times in her face and torso, bleeding on the floor of the apartment. An autopsy later revealed she also suffered blunt trauma to the head. 

    Coit's father testified in the hearing he saw a "look of terror" on his daughter's face when he went to the morgue to to identify her. 

    "That will haunt me for the rest of my life," said Lynde Coit, a Greenwich, Conn. businessman, according to the Daily News. "That will haunt me for the rest of my life. It will haunt the rest of our family." 

    Barrera, 34, admitted killing her and has since pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

    It is now up to the judge to decide how long Barrera will spend in prison. He faces a maximum of 25 years to life.

    It's expected the judge will take at least a few weeks to decide the sentence. 

    Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said the case highlights what he calls a national health crisis: domestic violence.

    "There were 92 family-related homicides in 2011 in New York City," said Vance. "Ninety-two out of the total number of homicides is a significant percentage, and that speaks to the significance of addressing domestic violence before it becomes fatal."

    Police say Coit had called police on one occasion in January to complain of a verbal dispute with Barrera when the couple lived in midtown Manhattan.

    Coit was from Greenwich, Conn., and worked as a salesperson in Manhattan; Barrera worked in public relations.

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