PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A jury on Thursday found Daniel Tejeda guilty of murdering a Providence mother of three.
While the verdict was read, Tejeda quietly shook his head – while the victim’s friends cried and shouted obscenities at him.
Prosecutors said Tejeda, a former Marine reservist, strangled 24-year Ashley Masi last year after she posted an ad on Backpage.com.
Officials said Tejeda, 28, used a zip tie to strangle her inside her third-floor apartment on River Avenue.
Now, he will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
“She was a loving friend. She had an amazing personality. There was nobody like Ashley. Nobody,” said Brianna Campanella, a friend of Masi’s. “Us losing her, we lost a piece of ourselves that day, ’cause we miss her so much.”
The mother of three met Tejeda after he responded to an ad for escort services.
Masi’s friends said they want her to be remembered for who she was – not what she did for a living.
“She’s a person, she’s a human being. She’s a mother of three,” Campanella said. “She wasn’t just a prostitute.”
“Every day she’d fight for her kids. She did what she had to do,” added Jason Colon.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence showing that Tejeda’s DNA was found on the zip tie around Masi’s neck. His lawyer is now vowing to appeal.
“My job is to be Mr. Tejeda’s advocate,” said Judith Crowell.
The jury heard closing arguments Wednesday and the case was then handed over for deliberations. The jury returned the verdict Thursday afternoon.
According to Eyewitness News crews in court, Tejeda will be held without bail at the ACI until his sentencing date on April 29.
Bill Tomison contributed to this report.