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WEST JORDAN — A West Jordan man who killed a woman in her Taylorsville home and was caught attempting to flee the country has been sentenced to at least 30 years and up to life in prison.
Bryan Steve Quintanilla, 19, was sentenced Thursday to terms of 25 years to life for aggravated murder and five years to life for aggravated robbery. A judge ordered the sentences to be served consecutively.
Quintanilla pleaded guilty last month to the charges, admitting to violently beating Margaret Steffey, 59, to death before stashing her body in a crawl space in her home, 3973 W. Blue Meadow Drive (5850 South).
Quintanilla then fled with Steffey's financial cards and was apprehended hours before he was to board a plane to El Salvador, a trip he had purchased using the dead woman's accounts.
Quintanilla apologized in court Thursday for the killing, saying that heavy use of the drug Spice — as much as two jars a day — had driven him "off the rails."
"I want to say that I'm really sorry for the pain that I caused for the family," Quintanilla said. "I took a life out of this world that I will never be able to give back, and for that I am deeply sorry."
Prosecutors said Thursday that Steffey's death was the end of a crime that continued to escalate — a home invasion and burglary that led to assault and eventually murder.
Members of Steffey's family who attended the sentencing chose not to speak. Some family members, including those who were too old or lived too far away to attend, submitted letters to the court.
This murder was senseless. Maggi would have given him money, he didn't need to kill her for it.
–Letter from Judie Nelson, Steffey's cousin
Judie Nelson, Steffey's cousin, said in a letter that some of Steffey's relatives were so troubled by the killing that they could never be told the violent details of what happened.
"This murder was senseless," Nelson wrote. "Maggi would have given him money, he didn't need to kill her for it."
Before handing down the sentence, 3rd District Judge Bruce Lubeck told Quintanilla that drug use could not explain away his brutal actions.
"It is beyond comprehension how this sort of thing can happen," Lubeck said. "It makes me shudder to think what she must have gone through with you in there."
In exchange for his pleas, prosecutors dismissed charges of aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony, and two counts of unlawful use a financial card, a third-degree felony.