DALLAS — State District Judge Jennifer Balido sentenced Arturo Arevalo to life in prison this afternoon for abducting and raping a foreign exchange student from Southern Methodist University.
A jury took just 30 minutes to convict Arevalo last Friday. Another man has pleaded guilty, and a third awaits trial.
According to police, the three men grabbed the student off a street in Old East Dallas last December as she was leaving a party. She was repeatedly sexually assaulted inside an SUV before she was released near Fair Park, where she was found by an undercover police officer.
Arevalo has asked the judge, rather than the jury, to decide his sentence. Life was the maximum.
He did not appear to react to the sentence as he stood with his arms behind his back.
The victim, 21, who did not cry on the witness stand last week, wiped away tears after Balido pronounced the sentence.
“Finally, I could relax. It’s been a long time,” she said in an interview afterward.
The Dallas Morning News does not typically identify victims of sex crimes.
Deciding to remain at SMU after the attack wasn’t difficult, she said. “That was a decision I made right away. I had to face it, or I would be afraid to travel.”
Testifying and speaking out publicly about what happened that night have kept the crimes from defining her, she said. “This will not take control of my life."
She said she had nothing to say to say to Arevalo or his accomplices. She didn’t make a victim impact statement, an opportunity to address Arevalo in court.
“My heart goes to their families,” she said.
Two men testified today about being robbed by Arevalo. One of those crimes occurred in Old East Dallas just before the woman’s abduction. An audio recording of that robbery exists because the victim was calling a friend when several men jumped out of an SUV and attacked him. He put his phone in his pocket, and the call went to voicemail.
“That’s all I got,” the victim is heard saying over and over.
“Shut the [expletive] up,” one of the robbers said.
The other robbery victim testified that Arevalo stole $70 from him after Arevalo and another man gave him a “beat down.”
According to testimony, Arevalo is an admitted gang member. He has multiple tattoos that reflect his gang affiliation, authorities said.