WAUSAU (WAOW) - A state appeals court says a Wausau man convicted of murdering an 18-year-old woman nearly four years ago was properly sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole.
A jury convicted Raul Ponce-Rocha of first-degree intentional homicide in 2011. Prosecutors presented evidence that Ponce-Rocha, now 26, beat Breanna Schneller with a clothes iron in April 2009 at the Wausau apartment she shared with her boyfriend and his brother.
Court records say evidence seized from a dumpster at El Tequila Salsa, a Mexican restaurant near Wausau where Ponce-Rocha worked, included a plastic bag with Schneller's cell phone and some of her underwear. Restaurant surveillance cameras and DNA testing linked Ponce-Rocha to the plastic bag.
In its ruling, the 3rd District Court of Appeals said Marathon County Circuit Judge Patrick Brady's sentence was not shocking, given "the vicious nature" of the attack and Ponce-Rocha's "total lack of emotion and remorse."
The three-judge panel also ruled that statements Ponce-Rocha made to police during a four-hour interview were properly used as evidence at the trial because he voluntarily made them.
Ponce-Rocha, a native of Mexico, was in the United States illegally at the time of his arrest.