GREENVILLE CO., SC (WSPA) – A Simpsonville teen pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of his mother.
Miguel Cano had been charged with murder in the death of his mother, Isabel Cristina Zuluaga, in 2015.
Zuluaga, 44, was found stabbed to death inside her Hipps Avenue home by a contractor.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office arrested her son, then 13 years old, in the killing.
On Monday, Cano received a 23-year sentence after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. The solicitor, the public defender, and even the judge said multiple times how unusual and unique this case is. Firstly, due to Cano’s age at the time of the crime, and also because several doctors found him to be on the autism spectrum.
A judge found Cano guilty but mentally ill. He will be incarcerated at Kirkland Correctional Institution.
Cano took responsibility at sentencing, reading a prepared statement in court.
“There are many people that my crime impacted very negatively. And to you I am sorry,” Cano said. “There is one person whom I wish I could apologize. What I did to my mother was a horrible, evil thing and I will always be most sorry to her.”
Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins requested the maximum sentence of 30 years.
“He stabbed his mother over 28 times.”
Cano’s attorney, pointing to his client’s age and autism, requested a lesser sentence of 13 years.
“That created the scenario where he should have been able to but was not able to conform his conduct,” Christopher Scalzo said.
Family also asked the judge to have compassion in her decision.
“I believe in a second chance for him. Please don’t be too hard on him.”
Judge Letitia Verdin recognizing the complexity of the case, ultimately sentenced Cano to 23 years.
“I will tell you that this is probably the most difficult and perplexing case I’ve ever had,” said Verdin.
Wilkins agreeing that the case was out of the ordinary, said he thinks society can learn from it.
“We understand it is very complex and we’ll never understand exactly why. But it certainly is a learning experience,” Wilkins said.
7News previously reported that Sheriff Steve Loftis said Cano admitted to stabbing his mother after his arrest.