In what was hopefully the close of a very painful chapter for the family and friends of Marilyn Pharis, Victor Martinez was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole Monday after being convicted of first degree murder in June.
Marilyn’s childhood best friend, her sister, her brother, and her sister-in-law all addressed the judge in a Santa Maria, California courtroom prior to Martinez’s sentencing. They shared stories illustrating Marilyn’s kind nature, played a video depicting her as a vivacious, family-oriented, adventurous woman, and described the pain of her loss and their anger at the way she died.
Marilyn and her best friend, Patty Holley, grew up together in Rochester, New York, but lived on separate coasts as adults. The two planned to retire together and share a home, and continue their travels. Those dreams and plans were cut short the morning Victor Martinez broke into Marilyn’s home.
Marilyn’s sister, Rosanne VanVoorhis, described her younger sibling as a “gentle soul” who would have given Martinez anything in the house he wanted. She testified that when she spoke to her sister after the attack, Marilyn tearfully asked, “Why did he have to beat me?” Pharis “fought with all her might,” Rosanne testified, because Martinez attacked her.
“You have destroyed your life and forever changed mine. You have robbed me of the time that Marilyn and I would have spent together after she retired. You stole the loving time Marilyn would have spent together with her family. They miss her greatly — we all do.
“Marilyn said she would have to find a way to forgive you, but I’m not sure that I can ever do that.”
William Pharis, Marilyn’s older brother, said his sister worried about finances after she retired but that when he went through her papers after her death he saw how much she was giving to charities.
“Looking at her finances, she could have survived very nicely, but she had all these charities she wanted to contribute to. Not only will our family and friends be poorer, the world will be poorer for her passing.”
Adding to their grief is the fact that the manner in which Marilyn, an extremely private person, was assaulted and died is widely known, and that her young grand-nieces and grand-nephews have had to learn how ugly the world can be at such a young age.