AURORA, Colo. – A man with a history of domestic violence who was convicted of first-degree murder last month in the death of a 57-year-old woman in December 2017 was sentenced this week to life in prison.
Terrence Terell Straughter, 51, of Aurora, was convicted of killing Dana Sems on Dec. 11, 2017, at Sems’ home on S. Sable Blvd. According to police and prosecutors, Straughter had been out of prison for less than 6 months when the murder occurred. He had served eight years on a domestic violence assault conviction in Colorado and also had a prior domestic violence conviction in Tennessee.
Mutual acquaintances of the two brought Straughter to Sems’ apartment, where they argued, prosecutors said.
When her medical home alarm company was unable to contact her the next morning, her son went to check on her and found her dead under a pile of clothes. She had a broken neck, fractured ribs, and cuts and bruises over various parts of her body, police said.
Prosecutors said Straughter had tried to destroy evidence, but they discovered his DNA on a piece of bratwurst that was found lodged in her throat.
A jury convicted Straughter of first-degree murder on July 31, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Sems’ family and friends were in court Monday for Straughter’s sentencing.
“My daughter was 4 years old when her grandmother died,” Sems’ daughter told the judge. “She asks over and over what happened, and I can’t tell her the truth because it’s too hard.”
“He has proven that he is immune to rehabilitative efforts. The only way to keep the community safe is to keep him locked up forever, and that is precisely what the law requires,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “We will continue to hold those accountable who visit violence upon the innocent.”