By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A man convicted of strangling a woman he took on a date to a strip club was sentenced Friday to 19 years to life in prison.
Michael Lenahan, a 32-year-old failed artist, was convicted of second-degree murder in August for murdering Lorna Santiago, 24, who had come to the city to pursue her dream of working as United Nations translator.
The pair had gone out to dinner and then to Rick's Cabaret in Midtown earlier that evening before retreating to his Chinatown apartment.
Prosecutors said Lenahan became enraged after she refused his sexual advances and killed her. He then stripped her naked and watched sadomasochist porn on the Internet with her lifeless body several feet away, prosecutors said during the trial.
But Lenahan's attorney claimed the death was accidental, that his client choked Santiago to stop her from becoming unruly as they argued about money.
After a bench trial that lasted several weeks, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Charles Solomon found Lenahan murdered Santiago.
At the sentencing Friday afternoon, Santiago's older brother, Rick, called her killer a "murderous bastard" and described the suffering the loss has caused her family.
"He is a remorseless and soulless killer who will continue to justify his homicidal rage through his decrepit state," he said of the killer who has a spinal condition and walks with a cane. "If allowed, he will kill again, because in his sociopathic righteousness, the whole world must pay for his pain."
Santiago's decomposing body was found by Lenahan's mother on his bed at the 20 Confucius Plaza apartment he shared with his grandmother three days after the young woman was choked to death.
What really happened in those early morning hours may never be known, Solomon said before sentencing Lenahan to less than the maximum sentence allowed under the law.
"What happened on this morning was a terrible crime," Solomon said. "He intentionally took Lorna Santiago's life and left her body in that bedroom for days."
When given the chance to speak, a barely audible Lenahan told the judge he is "far from a perfect person" but insisted he is a "good person," who is "extremely remorseful" for what happened.