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Judge Sentences Cruz for Murder, Arson and Child Abuse

Sherry Cruz, who was found guilty of murder and arson in March, was sentenced in Winchester Circuit Court on Monday, June 30.

WINCHESTER, Va. -  Many would say justice has been served for Christian Cruz, the two-year-old boy who was killed in a fire that burned through an apartment on North Kent Street a little over a year ago.

Winchester Circuit Court Judge Honorable John E. Wetsel sentenced Christian’s mother, Sherry Cruz, to 32 years in prison for the murder of Christian and the act of arson that killed him.

"We were disappointed that he gave her basically exactly what the jury sentenced her to,” said Cruz’s co-defense attorney, Christopher Collins. “We hoped that he would reduce that more substantially."

In total Cruz was sentenced to 36 years in jail; 25 years for murder, seven years for arson and four years for a probation violation charge out of Prince William County, Virginia. She’ll serve one year for a child abuse charge related to Christian Cruz, concurrently with the murder charge. Finally, she’ll serve three years of supervised probation for the three other child abuse charges.

Prior to her sentencing on Monday, Cruz asked the judge how she could “Accept responsibility for something [she] didn’t do?” In tears, she said she “Would never hurt [her] kids, [and] that they were all [she] had.”

Cruz wore the same outfit to her sentencing as she has for every court appearance during her trial. In her final statement, she told the judge “One day the truth would come out, and the world would know [she] was innocent.”

“She’s not [innocent],” said Alex Iden, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Winchester. “The jury found she’s not. The judge found she’s not.”

"I think there's still hope,” said Steve Jennings, who testified on Cruz’s behalf. “As long as there are loose ends, as long as there are still questions, I think there's still hope."

On Friday, Cruz opened a perjury investigation with Virginia State Police, in which she alleged 16 witnesses lied during her trial.

Her defense attorneys made a motion for continuance while the investigation was underway, but the judge denied it.

"This claim of perjury is coming only from the defendant. It hasn't been vetted by counsel. Her lawyers haven't explained how it might be perjury," said Iden.

Judge Wetsel said that the thought of 16 people committing perjury in one trial sounded “like a conspiracy theory,” and that it would be “unprecedented, not only in [his] experience, but in the history of the Commonwealth” if such accusations proved to be true.

He agreed to refrain from filing his sentencing for 21 days, which give the defense 42 days to file and perjury claims and 51 days to file anything with the Court of Appeals.

"Mr. Hensley and I have already prepared the appeal, and we will be filing that as soon as the order is written. So, regardless of what happens with the perjury charges, we are noting our appeal,” said Collins.

While the first chapter of this story was laid to rest, more is still to come as Cruz continues to maintain her innocence in the murder of her two-year-old son. 

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