Michel Escoto sentenced to life in prison for killing newlywed wife

Man convicted of first-degree murder in death of Wendy Trapaga proclaims innocence

MIAMI – A man who killed his wife three days after they were married to collect her $1 million life insurance policy was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Michel Escoto refused to accept responsibility for the murder during his sentencing hearing Wednesday.

Escoto was convicted of first-degree murder last month in the 2002 death of Wendy Trapaga. He had been serving as his own attorney throughout the trial until the day before the verdict, when he had his stand-by attorney, Terry Lenamon, give the closing arguments.

Wearing a shirt with Trapaga's picture on it, Rita Stephan read a prepared statement to her sister's killer in court.

"I had hoped for the death sentence for you, but now I find myself wanting you to live -- to be miserable, to live every day of your life being used as the toilet of other inmates every waking hour for the rest of your life, knowing that you are alone in the depths of hell on this earth and will proceed to go further until the day you drop dead," Stephan told Escoto. "This life is not the end for you. You will keep paying long after your body is six feet under."

That didn't seem to bother Escoto, who proclaimed his innocence when it was his turn to speak.

"No matter how much satisfaction this verdict has given any of you, that satisfaction does not change for a split second the fact that an innocent person was convicted in this case," Escoto told Trapaga's family.

Escoto did not express remorse or apologize. He is expected to appeal the verdict.