23 Years in Adult Prison for Teen, Then 13, Who Killed Mom

GREENVILLE, S.C.—A South Carolina teen who was 13 years old when he stabbed his mother to death has been sentenced to 23 years in an adult prison for the crime.

Miguel Cano apologized at the Greenville County courthouse on Oct.14 for the “horrible, evil thing” he did to his mother in their Simpsonville home in September 2015.

Isabel Zuluaga, 44, was stabbed in the chest, face, and neck. One stab wound went all the way through her chest and into the mattress she was laying on in her son’s room, Solicitor Walt Wilkins said.

Wilkins asked for a significant sentence because Cano, now 17, told investigators he planned the brutal attack and thought about killing other people, too.

“There are many people that my crime impacted very negatively, and to you, I am sorry. I am not happy to have hurt you. Some have lost a good friend. Others, a good family member, and I am ashamed to have caused it,” Cano said, according to media reports.

Cano’s lawyers said he had trouble controlling his emotions and was diagnosed with autism after his arrest. They had sought to have him found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Zuluaga’s body was found by a contractor who came to the house to work. When he didn’t get an answer at the door, the contractor went under the house and found Cano sitting there and blood dripping down from the floor.

Cano said he killed his mother the night before. Bloody paper towels were found around her body.

A judge ruled last year that Cano could be tried as an adult on a murder charge, which carried a possible sentence of 30 years to life in prison. Prosecutors accepted a plea deal of voluntary manslaughter, with sentencing ranging from two to 30 years behind bars. If Cano had been tried and convicted as a juvenile, he couldn’t have been kept in prison after he turned 21.

Public Defender Christopher Scalzo asked for a 13-year sentence because of Cano’s age and autism.

Family members and friends also testified Monday, saying Cano was smart and liked to play soccer, but also seemed to enjoy violence and had talked about murder.

Cano read his apology in court in a clear, calm voice.

“I’ll continue to try my best to be a better person, not just during my incarceration, but as long as I live,” Cano said.