Lakewood man who pleaded guilty to killing his girlfriend sentenced to 18 years in prison

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Refugio Sanchez Jr., left, and his lawyer at his sentencing in Pierce County Superior Court on Thursday, June 25, 2015. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

TACOMA — Refugio Sanchez Jr., 33, was sentenced to 18 years in prison Thursday for beating and strangling his girlfriend, a mother of two, in their Lakewood home.

Sanchez had pleaded guilty to killing Angela Cannizzio on the night of Nov. 12, 2013.

According to court documents, Sanchez and Cannizzio began arguing about her estranged husband, who lives in Connecticut. Sanchez became angry and struck Cannizzio twice with an upright vacuum, including one blow to the back of her head.

He then dragged her limp body down the stairs by her legs. Sanchez said Cannizzio appeared to be unconscious and that “she was like a rag doll.” At the bottom of the stairs, he slammed her face into the floor and strangled her.

After being booked into jail, the Pierce County prosecutor’s office said, Sanchez was anxious to take a shower and said, “I can’t wait to get this out from under my fingernails.”

The medical examiner determined the cause of death was strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. Cannizzio suffered multiple injuries, including a lacerated liver, broken rib and fractured neck bone.

She leaves behind two children.

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