Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
February 10, 2012
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE FOR BEATING AND STRANGLING-MURDER OF PROSTITUTE IN HOTEL ROOM
SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for murdering a prostitute by severely beating and strangling her to death in her hotel room. Cesar Gomez, 36, El Monte, was found guilty by a jury Sept. 22, 2011, of one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery.
On Aug. 19, 2009, 24-year-old Ashley Lilly checked into a hotel room at the Crown Plaza Anaheim Resort on Harbor Boulevard. The victim posted her profile on an escort website with information about the hotel where she was staying and that she would be there for three days. Men could contact the victim through the escort site to arrange to meet Lilly for sex, and she would provide them with her room number over the phone or the Internet. Gomez contacted Lilly through the escort website and set up a meeting.
Late on the night of Aug. 20, 2009, or early in the morning of Aug. 21, 2009, Gomez showed up at Lilly’s hotel room. He severely beat her face and body and strangled her to death. No sexual assault took place. After murdering the victim, the defendant ransacked the hotel room and stole the victim’s personal items. Gomez then fled the scene with the victim’s phone and laptop.
Later in the morning on Aug. 21, 2009, hotel staff found the murdered victim on the floor of her room and contacted the Garden Grove Police Department, who investigated this case with the assistance of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Gomez was linked to the crime through blood DNA collected from the crime scene, and the victim’s laptop was found in his home. He was subsequently arrested by Garden Grove police.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Cameron Talley of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.