The daughters of a woman stabbed to death seven years ago in her Long Beach home spoke to a tearful courtroom during sentencing Wednesday for the man convicted in her murder.
Dontae Davis, 26, was sentenced to life in prison for the killing of 76-year-old Leam Sovanasy, who was meditating Jan. 31, 2009 in her Long Beach home when two men entered the residence through a window. The men were believed to have been burglarizing homes and pawning stolen merchandise, police said.
Sovanasy, a Cambodian immigrant who survived the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, was a mother of seven and a grandmother of 20, police said.
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Family members, 10 of whom were seated in the courtroom's front row, spoke about Sovanasy at the sentencing. Daughter Samantha Bunma talked about her mother's diary, which documented the family's escape from Cambodia, in a statement that left many in the courtroom in tears.
"She was the center of our universe; the driving force that taught our family to love one another," said Bunma. "We are still picking up the pieces."
Yougest daughter Val Tubaces said her mother is "smiling down at us in this courtroom today."
"The murder of my mother is unforgivable," Tubaces. "I cannot understand why anyone would kill someone old and feeble, who wouldn't kill a fly.
"No matter what the punishment is, it will never bring her back. Putting the killers in jail will stop them from killing anyone else, but I can't change what they already did."
The cold case investigation received a boost in July 2013 when investigators received a tip about a white 1990s Chevy Caprice sedan seen near the crime scene. Composite sketches of two men suspected in the killing and a $10,000 reward for information in the case led to more leads, but it was a phone call to police from Davis that eventually led to the arrests.
Davis called investigators, saying that he looked like one of the subjects in the sketches, in an attempt to fish for information, authorities said. Davis and another man, Freddie Battle, were linked to the Chevy with traffic citations.
DNA was then used to connect the men to the crime, police said. Battle is expected to be sentenced at a later date.