• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Ex-border agent gets 30 years to life in prison for hatchet attack

March 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A former Border Patrol agent who set out to kill his estranged wife with a hatchet but mistakenly attacked two of her roommates instead was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors said that in 2009, Gamalier Rivera armed himself with two hatchets and took a cab from his home in Imperial Beach to the house in Escondido, where Erika Von der Heyde had just moved in with her boyfriend and other roommates.

Rivera broke into the home about 1 a.m., looking for his estranged wife and her boyfriend, but instead went into the wrong bedroom and found roommate Chris Anguiano and his girlfriend sleeping.

Rivera attacked the two and left Anguiano blind and brain damaged. His girlfriend suffered deep cuts to her legs and lost the tip of a toe.

On Tuesday, Anguiano, made his way to the podium to confront the man who attacked him two years ago, inflicting devastating injuries.

"I had a lot of dreams," Anguiano said. "I was the one supposed to take care of my parents, not them to take care of me. You will pay for what you did."

Rivera listened to angry words from Anguiano's family and friends as well.

"A true, weak, worthless coward," said Debra Folz. "You're going where the rats dwell, where you deserve to be."

Rivera wiped away a tear. Then, after almost two years, he finally spoke to his blind victim.

"Chris, I want you to know I never hated you," Rivera said. "I understand the hate you feel. I will never be able to make that change. But I do want you to know I am sorry."

He was convicted of premeditated attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary.

City News Service contributed to this report.