Angela Sanford, a self-proclaimed witch, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars Friday for stabbing a New Mexico man to death during a Wiccan sex ritual.
Sanford, 31, brutally murdered Joel Leyva, 52, with a dagger after persuading him to have sex. During intercourse, the Albuquerque witch unsheathed a ceremonial knife, called an athame in Wiccan practices, and then stabbed Leyva 13 times in the head, neck, back, and abdomen.
March of last year, when the homicide took place, Sanford was arrested and claimed the killing was done in self-defense. According to the Wiccan woman, she and Levya were on a popular hiking trail in Albuquerque when she became afraid he would rape her. To stave off his advances, she convinced the middle-aged man she wanted to have intercourse, and then disemboweled him.
Detectives arrested Sanford and a Bernalillo County grand jury indicted her not long after. She pleaded no contest. Meanwhile, her lawyer contested Levya's “violent past and paranoia” was the cause of the killing, according to Eyewitness News.
Further investigation into the incident revealed a number of unsettling circumstances surrounding the Wiccan’s story, calling into question her testimony.
The first piece of evidence was that Sanford invited Leyva to the hiking trail to celebrate the Wiccan Spring Rite of Beltaine. Although circumstantial, it did cast suspicion on the now-imprisoned woman.
Another particularly damning fact was revealed when detectives went through Sanford’s cell phone. Inside, they saw that she had programmed her victim’s number under “Sacrifice.”
The tides turned against Sanford then, leading to a yearlong process, and ending in the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
For Levya’s family, the trial was tough, especially knowing that she could have essentially gone free.
“She could have walked away today with probation. That’s the law. That’s awful,” said Matt Levya, according to Eyewitness News.