By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun
Norman Tyrell Cates, 19, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for the 2004 murder of 65-year-old Lena Aragon Barrett of Roy.
A jury convicted Cates in a three-day trial that ended Jan. 11. Cates had pleaded not guilty.
The trial was moved from Harding to Quay County due to publicity surrounding the case, officials said.
After Judge Kevin Sweazea pronounced the sentence, a relative of Cates shouted out, “It’s not over until it’s over,” and quickly left the courtroom with Cates’ father, John Cates, Jr.
“Justice has been served,” said Barrett’s youngest sister, Betty Trujillo of Plano, Texas. “It could only come out with a life sentence.”
Medical examiner reports show Barrett received a blow to the head, was strangled, stabbed 28 times – once through the heart — and had her clothes ripped off. There was evidence of sexual trauma, said prosecutor Don Schutte.
Schutte also told the judge that Cates seemed to have a fascination with Ted Bundy, a serial killer who is estimated to have killed as many as 40 women in the 1970s.
“It’s almost as if he (Bundy) were a hero to Mr. Cates,” said Schutte, noting that Barrett was chosen at random and there was no rational explanation for the violence.
“She was murdered over and over,” he said.
Psychiatric and diagnostic evaluations also indicate that Cates shows signs of an antisocial personality disorder, bordering on the psychotic, and that he would be a threat to the community, Schutte said.
John Cates spoke on behalf of his son. He raised questions about how the investigation was conducted and said eye-witnesses who could offer information about the case had not been interviewed or called. He also said there was another man in the area at the time of Barrett’s death who “resembled Ty.”
He also asked for the court’s cooperation in releasing the case to the Innocence Project and The Constitutional Project. Both are non-profit groups that work to exonerate the wrongfully convicted.
Trujillo, who held a large oval picture of her sister at the hearing, said Barrett had befriended Ty Cates about two months before her death.
“She (Barrett) found him drunk on the side of the road,” and helped Cates to get home, Trujillo said.
Cates’ father said he had known Barrett all his life.
“It’s certainly justice,” Schutte said after the hearing. “He’s been totally absent of any emotion, any remorse” throughout the trial and hearing.
Ty Cates was arrested the night of Dec. 20 after someone told officials they had heard Cates say he “felt like pulling a Ted Bundy,” Schutte said.
Ty Cates’ DNA was found under Barrett’s fingernails and when Cates was arrested there were scratch marks on his face, Schutte said.
Barrett’s family said they knew they could not ask the judge to consider the death penalty because Cates was a juvenile, 17, when the crime was committed. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment for juvenile offenders.
Ty Cates had written the judge prior to the hearing, seeking the appointment of a new attorney. Sweazea said the sentencing had been postponed once and that Cates could seek new legal counsel following the sentencing.
Attorney Luis Juarez of Las Vegas represented Cates at the hearing and said an appeal would be filed.