Mass. man pleads guilty to killing Google employee Vanessa Marcotte in 2016

A Massachusetts man pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing a Google employee whose 2016 death launched an effort to train women in self-defense, prosecutors said.

Angelo Colon-Ortiz, 36, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and a robbery count in a deal that ensures he will serve at least 45 years in prison, the Worcester County district attorney’s office said.

Vanessa Marcotte, 27, disappeared Aug. 7, 2016, in Princeton, Massachusetts, while she was out for a walk during a visit with family. Her body was found in nearby woods later that day, officials have said.

Colon-Ortiz was arrested in April 2017, more than eight months later, after authorities said DNA from the victim’s hands matched him.

District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said the Marcotte family agreed with the plea deal.

“We are thankful and gratified the legal process has accomplished what we always wished for, that this man will now be in a place where he can’t hurt anyone else like the way he hurt Vanessa,” the family said in a statement distributed by the district attorney’s office.

Colon-Ortiz was sentenced to life in prison but will be eligible for parole after 45 years, the district attorney’s office said.

Defense attorneys tried to get the DNA evidence excluded on the basis that it was improperly collected and that Colon-Ortiz, who speaks only Spanish, did not understand officers, NBC Boston has reported. In January, a judge allowed the evidence to be used.

A foundation was formed in Marcotte’s memory, the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation, which helps train women in self-defense and conducts workshops aimed at empowerment and healthy relationship, according to its website.

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