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El Salvadoran man sentenced to 40 years for 2014 Silver Spring murder

ROCKVILLE, MD -- An El Salvadoran man was sentenced to 40 years in prison for a 2014 murder of man in Silver Spring, Md.

"This was a vicious killing. 23 stab wounds. Some that were so catastrophic and so powerful, I don’t think I should describe them on camera," said Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy following the sentencing of Ulises Blanco-Melgar. He added that prosecutors still can't say for certain why the murder happened. "The only person that can tell us what happened in the apartment is Mr. Melgar. He has never offered an explanation."

Blanco-Melgar was sentenced to life in prison, with all but 40 years suspended as part of a plea agreement he entered for the first-degree murder of Tomas Herrera Batres. The judge also gave him credit for his time served since the 2014 murder.

Prosecutors said that on June 19, 2014 Batres invited Blanco-Melgar to his apartment, which is above the El Sitio restaurant in Silver Spring, Md. Around midnight, the restaurant’s owner told police he heard a loud thump and came running out the restaurant to see what had happened.

The owner said that as he came out of the restaurant, he saw Blanco-Melgar running out of the door leading to the upstairs apartment. The owner then ran upstairs and found Batres lying in a pool of his own blood, having beens stabbed and cut 23 times.

The owner chased after Blanco-Melgar in his car and gave police updates on where he was, allowing police to capture the defendant within 15 minutes.

McCarthy said by that time, Blanco-Melgar had ditched his shoes and shirt, but the victim’s blood was found on his hands. McCarthy added that Blanco-Melgar had no injuries.

At one point during the sentencing hearing, Blanco-Melgar slumped over in his chair and asked to have the sentencing delayed saying he did not feel well. The judge denied the request and shortly after that, Blanco-Melgar stood up and spoke for about 40 minutes through a translator. He said that he wasn’t guilty and only pled guilty because his lawyer told him to.

Following Blanco-Melgar's statement, the judge told him that his behavior in court showed he was not only a murderer, but also a liar. McCarthy added it was another example of Blanco-Melgar’s malingering that has caused the case to drag on for three years.

"I think that what happened today and as it played out in court, he damaged himself. This is not a man who has ever taken responsibility for viciously killing a person that some people might have even characterized as a friend," said McCarthy.

He added that whenever Blanco-Melgar is released, he still faces another legal battle as he entered the United States illegally from El Salvador and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a detainer placed on him.