VALLEJO, Calif. -- A Vallejo family waited 27 years before they witnessed the sentencing Tuesday of the man who sexually assaulted and killed their loved one.
Josafat Presencio was sentenced this morning to 27 years in prison for the death of Wynetta Davis, 27, who disappeared from her Vallejo home in May 1988.
"She told us she was going to the store to get Pampers for her kids. We called police the next day and they found her a week later in a barrel of water like she was a piece of trash," Davis' oldest niece Lanora Miller said outside a Sonoma County Superior Courtroom.
Davis' body was found May 13, 1988, in a livestock water trough in the 3100 block of Pepper Road west of Petaluma. She was identified by fingerprints and the cause of death was determined to be strangulation, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.
DNA testing in 2011 identified Vallejo residents Presencio, now 49, and Fausto Chavez, now 51, as the suspects in the sexual assault and murder of Davis. When they were arrested in 2013, Presencion was already in custody on other charges.
Presencion pleaded no contest on July 2 to oral copulation, rape and voluntary manslaughter. As part of a plea agreement, he will serve half of the 27 years in prison. Most of the term is for the sexual assaults.
Presencion is already serving half of a 55-year prison term for sexual offenses he committed in Marin County in 1989. He also has a voluntary manslaughter conviction as a juvenile. His sentence today is consecutive to the longer Marin County term.
Chavez pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder and will be sentenced Aug. 11. At a preliminary hearing, he testified he, Presencion and Davis went to Petaluma to drink and have sex and that Davis died during a dispute.
Presencion's attorney Geoffrey Dunham also said his client and Davis were acquainted, and that according to a police report, the two men had sex with Davis in Petaluma in May 1988.
"They were drinking and doing drugs," Dunham said.
"There was a disagreement about what she would do and when. There was a confrontation and she showed signs of agitation. There was an attempt to quiet her down and it went badly," Dunham said.
"It wasn't their intention to kill her, but their activities resulted in her death," Dunham said.
Dunham said Presencion was within five years of finishing his Marin County sentence when he was arrested in 2013 for Davis' murder.
Davis' relatives addressed Presencion in court before he was sentenced.
"Sometimes I wonder what evil looks like and then I look at you," Miller said. "You walked around for more than 20 years knowing you took a life. You are a true coward."
Davis' oldest sister Marilyn Jones told Judge Rene Chouteau the sentence should be "a life for a life."
"Thank you for catching him and putting him away," Jones said.
Tamara Walker, Davis' niece, said the closure the family now has "is a phenomenal and humbling experience," but she told the court Davis' sons never were able to tell their mother they loved her.
Davis' 28-year-old son died last year in his sleep. Her other son is now 27 years old.