Man receives 2 life sentences for stabbing, burning Falls Church mother

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge handed two life sentences to 48-year-old Richard Montano, who killed a mother of two before lighting her on fire in 2022.

Prosecutors said the 40-year-old mom of two, Sylvia “Kelly” Vaca Abacay, was staying with her friend, Fatima Via Rojas, at the Villages at Falls Church in August 2022. Montano and Via Rojas, had a romantic relationship that ended violently a month earlier.

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Motano was seen on Ring footage entering the apartment several times when Via Rojas wasn’t home and on Aug. 10, 2022, he entered the apartment and mistook Kelly for Fatima. He stabbed Kelly several times before lighting her on fire. Neighbors who heard screams and commotion, called 911. Officers arrested Montano later that day and found a bent knife in his car.

Vaca Abacay’s family and friends attended the sentencing on Friday morning, wearing shirts commemorating the late mother. Her cousin, Gabriela Rojas, said each day without the late mother is a struggle.

Up until his sentencing, Montano maintained his innocence. His attorney read a statement aloud, translated from Spanish, stating in part that Montano committed no evil, and wished for strength, health and love for his parents, sisters and children.

The judge acknowledged his statement but said that his actions were deliberate and premeditated.

“Your worst moment cost the life of a daughter, a mother, a friend,” the judge said.

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Each life sentence also includes three additional years with three years suspended, which could be applied if Montano is granted parole. Montano’s attorney said that he plans to appeal the sentences but will need to begin working with a public defender first.

The judge said she will hold off on signing the sentencing orders until Montano is assigned a public defender so that he can use the full 30 day period allotted to make an appeal.

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