BEDFORD, Va (WFXR) — Cristian Jose Sanchez Gomez was sentenced to 60 years in a penitentiary for his involvement in the brutal murder of 17-year-old Raymond Woods that occurred in March 2017. Sanchez Gomez’s sentencing took place at the Bedford Courthouse on the morning of Wednesday September 21.

Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance says he is very satisfied with the sentencing.

“Any individual that participated in a crime of this brutality, that gets a term of years as opposed to the word life, has been given ample consideration,” said Nance.

The courtroom sat in anticipation for hours as various witnesses took the stand. The court heard from experts and family members–including Sanchez Gomez’s mother, who travelled from El Salvador to be there. One of Sanchez’ attorneys, Carter Garrett, says he was a bit surprised by the judge’s sentence.

“I expected something in the 35 to 40 year range so it was a little heavier than I expected but I thought that Judge Updike explained why it went that high and he had his reasons,” said Garrett.

Nance says Sanchez Gomez’s willingness to testify in the prosecution of other MS-13 gang members involved in the murder was taken into consideration during his sentencing.

“Absolutely horrific, brutal crime, but for the Commonwealth to get where it’s gotten so far with the other co-defendants and the federal authorities to get where they’ve gotten with their co-defendants, required a cooperator, in this case it was Cristian Sanchez Gomez,” said Nance.

Witnesses stated that Sanchez Gomez fled his home country of El Salvador out of fear of MS-13, only to later end up in their grasps in the United States. Sanchez Gomez’s attorneys argued that alerting authorities could have cost him own life.

“Our position is had he tried to walk away, it would have imperiled his life,” said Garrett.

Although Sanchez Gomez did aid in the criminal justice process of this case, Judge Updike says ultimately, he could have walked away– and did not.

Nance added that although they are one step closer to getting closure on the criminal justice aspect of this case, they will never be able to get full closure for the mother and family members of Raymond Woods.