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Gang Member Who Told 15-Year-Old Victim To Remember Her 'Until The Day We See Each Other In Hell' Cries In Court
MS-13 gang member Venus Romero Iraheta brutally killed 15-year-old Damaris Reyes Rivas, even slicing off the victim's tattoo from her body, as part of a revenge killing.
A teen MS-13 gang member who once told her 15-year-old victim to remember her name "until the day we see each other in hell" was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison for the brutal slaying.
But while Venus Romero Iraheta, seen on the right, had once boasted to investigators about killing Damaris Reyes Rivas, her tone changed as she sobbed in court and begged for mercy.
"I would give my life to bring her back," she said in court, according to WRC-TV. "I am sorry. I am so sorry."
Reyes Rivas' mother, Maria Reyes, said in court Friday her daughter's murder had destroyed her life and devastated their family.
"My life is no life without my little girl. My girl is always on my mind, all the time," she said according to the local news station. "All the time, I remember what this young girl did to my daughter."
Despite Iraheta's one-time assertion that she'd see the victim in hell, Reyes said her daughter, who she buried in her quinceañara dress, was in heaven.
"My daughter is not in hell, as she said. She’s in heaven. She has shown me that in my dreams. ... Hell will be lived by you, not by her,” she said according to the Washington Post.
According to investigators, Damaris was lured to Lake Accotink Park in Fairfax County, Virginia, on Jan. 8, 2017 under the pretense of smoking marijuana, but when she arrived at the park she found 10 MS-13 gang associates who began to question her about the death of Christian Sosa Rivas, Iraheta's boyfriend and an MS-13 associate who had been killed about a week earlier, the newspaper reports.
They took Damaris to several locations, at one point making her take off her shirt and shoes, and walk barefoot in the snow so she could feel the same cold Rivas felt when his body was dumped into the river.
The gang members accused Damaris of luring Rivas to his death and took video of themselves beating her before Iraheta climbed on top of her and demanded to know if she had slept with Rivas. Damaris said that she had and began to beg for forgiveness, but Iraheta would later tell Fairfax County detectives and an FBI agent that she left Damaris with haunting last words before she killed her.
"'You're going to remember me until the day we see each other in hell,'" she told investigators through a translator, according to The Post. "'Don't forget my name,' and I told her my full name. ... I told her to never forget who I was."
She also reportedly sliced the victim's tattoo off her body.
When investigators asked whether she felt remorse about the killing, she shook her head no.
But on Friday, Iraheta called the killing "the worst mistake of my life" and said the images from that day continue to torment her.
"At night, while I'm sleeping I will wake up with these memories," she said, according to The Post. "They will come to me full force. I wish I could push them away."
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh said Friday he believed the remorse was nothing more than "crocodile tears," WRC-TV reports.
Iraheta is one of 10 defendants who has been convicted in the murder. Iraheta and Damaris had reportedly grown up just miles from each other in El Salvador.
Damaris' mother had brought her to the United States to try to escape the violent gang life, The Post reports.
[Photos: NBC, Fairfax County Police]