Updated 03/06/2012 01:38 PM
Man Gets 23 Years In Murder Of Brooklyn Dancer
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A convicted sex offender was sentenced upstate Tuesday to 23 years in prison for killing a woman he picked up at a Manhattan nightclub.
Michael Mele, 26, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in January in the death of Brooklyn resident Laura Garza.
Garza, 25, was last seen leaving Club Marquee in Chelsea with Mele back in 2008.
Mele admitted to suffocating the aspiring dancer and dumping her body in rural Pennsylvania.
Some of Garza's family members took the stand inside the Goshen courtroom to address Mele. At one point, her brother told Mele he had destroyed their lives for three years and says nothing would be able to heal his family's pain.
"These 23 years are gonna be good because it's one person not on the streets, not a predator. And we really, I mean...God bless him, whatever happens. And we're hoping that he doesn't do that again because it's like we were saying earlier. Later on, when he gets out, how difficult is it for him to make friends because people are gonna know who he is already," said Garza's cousin, Nissa Sanchez.
Mele will be eligible for parole in 20 years.