Judge Rejects Motion to Withdraw Plea, Man Who Pleaded Guilty in Homicide of 92-Year-Old Sentenced

Peter Thao, 26, previously pleaded guilty to one count of murder and one count of residential burglary.

A man who tried to withdraw his guilty plea in the random death of a 92-year-old woman found in her National City apartment was denied in court and sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for the crime. 

Peter Thao, 26, previously pleaded guilty to one count of murder and one count of residential burglary. He was initially charged with first-degree murder with a special circumstance in the death of Maria Rivera, 92. 

In August, at his scheduled sentencing, Thao attempted to withdraw his plea through his attorney, Prosecutor C.J. Mody said. When Judge Ana Espana denied that motion, he requested to represent himself -- a request that was granted -- and tried to withdraw his guilty plea again, while representing himself. The motion was set to be heard Monday. 

On Monday, Judge Espana denied his motion to withdraw his plea. 

Thao was sentenced to 31 years to life, per the plea agreement. 

National City Police said they found the victim, Rivera, in her D Street apartment on Oct. 22, 2016.

When officers began investigating, they determined the residence had been burglarized before Rivera's death.

Thao was arrested and charged in her death after an investigation.

Police declined to comment on what evidence linked Thao to the crime but said they found the evidence inside his home. They also confiscated his car.

Authorities do not believe there are any outstanding suspects, but the investigation is ongoing.

The homicide is believed to be random.

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