The man who admitted to killing Celia Barquín Arozamena received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole at a hearing in Nevada Friday, with both her family and those in the legal system agreeing justice had been served.
Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds delivered a message to the court on behalf of Barquín Arozamena's family in Spain, where she was from. The statement said in part “the judicial result obtained today brings the justice that Celia deserved.”
“Celia was an example of important values such as effort and constancy in her goals, friendship and love for those around her,” her family said. “And a smile and a positive attitude when facing daily problems. We cannot think of a better way to pay tribute to her memory than to have those values present in our daily lives and our hearts.
Judge Bethany Currie, who presided over the sentencing of the admitted murderer — Collin Daniel Richards — said she would have sentenced Richards to life without parole even if his guilty plea had not resulted in that outcome by default.
“Even if I had discretion to choose a sentence, based on the facts of this case I believe the sentence is appropriate,” Currie said.
Capital punishment is not a legal sentence in Iowa, and no convicts have been executed in the state since the 1960s.
After the sentencing, Reynolds issued a statement vowing those who commit violent crimes will be held responsible.
“Today the legal conclusion to the tragic and senseless murder of Celia Barquín Arozamena occurred. Her murderer will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Reynolds said. “Violent crime will not be tolerated in our community. Offenders will be held accountable.”
Richards admitted to targeting Barquín Arozamena at random and stabbing her to death Sept. 17, 2018 at the Coldwater Golf Links, where she had been practicing alone.
Barquín Arozamena was an accomplished golfer at Iowa State, winning the 2018 Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year award which was thereafter renamed in her honor.
The statement from Barquín Arozamena’s family went on to say they have experienced a “slow and painful process” getting used to her absence.
“To miss her daily calls telling how the day had gone or the beautiful reunions when she returned to our house for holidays,” the family said in the statement. “Celia was a young woman who radiated a desire to live, to improve day by day so as to reach her dreams but without missing the opportunity to offer help to whoever asked for it.”
Unless Iowa law changes, Richards will have no possibility of being paroled, and has been ordered to pay for the family of Barquín Arozamena $150,000 in restitution.