The San Diego man who attacked women in a crime spree that gripped the community of North Park in 2014 cried in court Friday as he asked for forgiveness.
"I had a lot of pain bottled up inside me," David Angelo Drake II said as he accepted responsibility for the violent attacks on public streets and sidewalks between April and August 2014. In some cases, the women never saw him before he knocked them unconscious from behind.
He was arrested after a police officer's wife saw something unique about the suspect in surveillance video.
DNA and fingerprint evidence then linked him to the crime scenes.
Drake pleaded guilty to all seven attacks and sexual assaults and, as part of a plea agreement, he will spend 57 years to life in prison.
In court, he cried as he apologized to his victims and his family.
"In no way am I attempting to justify my actions against seven innocent women. What I did was wrong," he added.
As part of the sentencing, victims were offered the opportunity to speak.
Prosecutors read a letter from one woman who now lives outside of San Diego.
She told the court she was "knocked senseless" in an attack that has left her with panic attacks and a high level of anxiety.
"What you did to me changed the course of my life but I have taken this senseless, violent attack and used this as an opportunity to transform myself and my life for the better," the woman wrote.
Another victim appeared in person and recalled the heartache of having her now deceased mother fear for her safety after the sexual assault.
"I’m lucky that you beat my head in hard enough that I don’t remember it," she told Drake.
She described living with nightmares, migraines, panic attacks and hallucinations.
"I’m so glad I pushed through the pain you brought upon me," she said. "I’m thriving despite what you did to me."
Outside court, defense attorney Dan Greene said his client had been facing 114 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts.
However, Judge Melinda Lasater sentenced Drake to approximately 57 years to life in prison for the crime spree she said was "atrocious."
Lasater noted an overwhelming amount of family support for the defendant.
Greene said his client suffers from mental illness but did not go into specifics as to a diagnosis.
"Mental illness takes many shapes and forms," Greene said. "There's a reason why an otherwise loving, caring family member with no criminal record participated in these offenses."