A 20-year-old Salvadoran immigrant who pleaded guilty last month to raping two Silver Spring women and committing a series of burglaries was sentenced in Montgomery County Circuit Court yesterday to two life terms plus 155 years.
Moments earlier, Jose Fernando Lopez told Judge John L. Mitchell through an interpreter, "You may as well give me death because where I'll go, or where you'll send me, the people don't like these charges."
"I can't do that," Mitchell responded before imposing the maximum sentences.
Lopez was convicted Feb. 24 of the attempted rape of one Silver Spring woman and had been indicted on charges of raping four others. In addition, according to court papers, he had confessed to the rape of a sixth.
As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Lopez pleaded guilty last month to two rapes, five counts of burglary, one of robbery and one of assault with intent to rape. Lopez, whose attorneys had argued he was at a disadvantage during police interrogations because of his limited English, agreed in return not to appeal his conviction.
The victims, who were all attacked in their homes between August 1984 and last July, ranged in age from 45 to 86, including three who were over 70.
Lopez apologized to the women yesterday in court and said he was "very sorry for all the harm I've caused the victims. Never had I imagined I'd caused this kind of harm."
Some of the women sat together in the courtroom yesterday and two cried as they listened to Lopez.
In arguing for the maximum sentences, Assistant State's Attorney John McCarthy said that since the attacks several of the victims remained traumatized, and were afraid to leave their homes to do simple errands.
"I started to cry when I heard" the sentence, said one of the victims after the hearing. "I've had headaches ever since. I'm very happy he is off the street."
A spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office said it had not been decided where Lopez would serve his sentence and that he would not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years.