Yolo County Judge Paul Richardson on Thursday sentenced Rohail Sarwar to life in prison without possibility of parole for the murder of Junying Lu. Judge Richardson told the court the crime was among the “most vicious criminal acts” he had ever seen in his career on the bench.
Sarwar, a recent arrival from Pakistan who spoke little English, had often demanded sex from therapists at the Cottonwood Massage in Woodland. When denied, the Pakistani man urinated on the table, leading Cottonwood employees to dub him the “pee guy.”
On August 21, 2018, when Junying Lu denied Sarwar’s demand for sex, he inflicted 14 stab wounds to the victim’s head and torso, then left her body in the hall and fled. Sarwar was 27, his victim 51.
The murder charge included enhancements for lying in wait and murder in the commission of a burglary. In July, a Yolo County Jury found Sarwar guilty on all counts, and also guilty of sexual assault. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, but the victim’s family members called for it on Thursday. Family members, including Junying Lu’s husband, had to be restrained from going after the convicted murderer.
During the trial, public defender Ron Johnson had portrayed Cottonwood Massage as something of a disguised whorehouse. On Thursday, Junying Lu’s youngest daughter Amy told the court her mother was a kind and hard-working woman dedicated to her family. Amy had given birth after the crime, and her mother would never see her grandchild.
Amy told Sarwar “you think you are in your own country” and during the trial that had been supported by testimony from Tamsila N. Deputy district attorney Diane Ortiz asked the witness to tell the court about women in Pakistan’s Islamic culture.
Tamsila told the court the court women were expected to obey orders and “submit sexually” to men. Divorce is difficult and in Pakistan and “We have no rights, only men have rights,” Tamsila told the court. Based on her testimony and evidence in the case, Rohail Sarwar did believe he could have his way with women and inflict violence with full impunity.
As Junying Lu’s daughter Amy told him on Thursday, “This is the United States, where we have human rights.” Amy also wondered why Rohail Sarwar had not been “kicked out of the United States,” and that raised an issue. The assaults at the Cottonwood Massage would help make a case for deportation.
Rohail Sarwar made no statement on Thursday. Whether a legal or illegal immigrant, he contributed little or nothing to the United States. And in a vicious criminal act, the Pakistani man deprived a family of a dedicated mother.
American taxpayers paid for Sarwar’s legal defense and now take on the burden of supporting this vicious murderer for the rest of his life.
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