Burlington man gets 17 1/2 years for attempted murder


MOUNT VERNON — A Burlington man pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree attempted murder for slashing his girlfriend's throat in October and leaving her for dead in the woods south of Bellingham.

Hector Garcia-Pelayo, 31, was sentenced to 17 1 /2 years in prison, after which he will be deported.

Cyclists found the bleeding woman crawling out of the woods on Nulle Road on Oct. 5, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

She was not expected to survive her injuries after being taken to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, according to incident reports, but an emergency blood transfusion and other treatment saved her.

The woman had lived with Garcia-Pelayo and their two daughters, about 2 and 5 years old, in Burlington. The two had been together about six years.

Attorneys on both sides cited jealousy as a motivator in the attack. A note found in the woman's house, which appeared to be in Garcia-Pelayo's handwriting, accused his girlfriend of cheating on him, according to the affidavit.

Garcia-Pelayo turned himself in to police in Sunnyside the morning after the attack and was brought to Skagit County Jail.

"I turned into a monster at that moment," he told the court Thursday through an interpreter. He later described wishing he could go back in time, wishing it had happened to him and wanting to kill himself "so I can see my daughters every day."

The day before the attack, the woman moved to stay with her brother and sister-in-law in Bellingham, reports say.

The morning of the incident, Garcia-Pelayo arrived there and said he was going to take his girlfriend and their children shopping.

The children were in his vehicle during the attack. He later dropped them off with relatives in the Yakima area.

The woman addressed the court Thursday, saying she and her daughters were traumatized by the attack and that she now fears he will try to "finish what he started."

"I want him to pay for what he did to me, the way he left me," she said through an interpreter, also describing the scar on her neck and the damage to her voice.

"I'm not OK anymore. I'm not going to be OK."

In issuing his ruling, Judge Dave Needy called the attack "a horribly vicious and violent crime."

"There is no sentence that I can impose that will undo the damage that has been done to the victim and her children," Needy said.

The children still love their father and ask where he is, the woman told the court Thursday.

"But he knows what he did," she said. "... May God forgive him. I can't do it."

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