By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
A Stockton man will serve 25 years to life in prison for the 2001 murder of of his former girlfriend, a Calaveras County Superior Court judge ruled yesterday.
Nineteen months after 41-year-old Keri Rasberry's decomposing body was found in a remote area near Dorrington, Jay Edward Cates was given his prison term.
Wearing a red jail jumpsuit, Cates, 42, sat impassively as Judge Gregory Haas, from El Dorado County, read the sentence, which includes no credit for good conduct, but does credit Cates for the time he has already served in the Calaveras County Jail 559 days.
Cates' appointed public defender, LeRoy Falk, immediately filed a notice of appeal.
A jury convicted Cates of the murder April 17.
Although no relatives of the victim spoke during yesterday's hearing, Raspberry's mother and brother filed victim impact statements with the court.
Rasberry was the first born and only daughter of Margaret Ann Maisel. Maisel said in her statement that hearing the words "we have found your daughter's body" from the authorities felt as if "something had ripped my heart out of my chest."
John Maisel Jr., the victim's brother, said in his statement, "My sister was in the prime of her life with a 16-year old daughter, who now, along with my family and me, has to forever live with this horrible crime."
Following the sentencing, Deputy District Attorney Joseph Dickerson said Cates will serve 25 years before he can be considered for parole.
Falk said Cates, who has maintained that he is innocent, will be assigned an attorney for his appeal.
"Most likely they'll appeal it to the district court," he said. "I'm done with it."
Dickerson said the appeal does not concern him.
"This case was clear enough. I don't think any attorney looking at it will find any errors," he said.
Rasberry's body was found Sunday, Oct. 28, 2001, about 400 yards down a hillside off Boards Crossing Road. She had been missing since Oct. 6.