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A dental assistant accused nearly 40 years ago of killing a US Navy recruit was found guilty of premeditated first degree murder.
Sixty-one-year-old Thomas Garner was reportedly sentenced Thursday by a 12-person jury at the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, about 25 miles northeast of Orlando. Garner was brought on trial for fatally beating and strangling Navy recruit Pamela Cahanes in 1984 before throwing her body into an overgrown field.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Circuit Judge Marlene Alva.
DENTAL HYGIENIST IN THE 1984 KILLING OF A NAVY SETTING PROCESS
“Pamela Cahanes entered the Navy to fight for her county. Instead, she had to fight more than Thomas Garner [eight] Minutes just to lose their lives “Deputy Prosecutor Anna Valentini said in a statement, according to the Orlando Sentinel.” We are grateful that we were able to win this fight for Pamela and her family. I hope you can rest more easily knowing that Thomas Garner will wake up in a prison cell tomorrow and every day after that and know exactly why he is there. “
Garner and Cahanes were both classmates at the former Orlando Naval Training Center. She had just finished bootcamping before she was found dead on August 5, 1984.
The cold case remained unsolved for years. Garner was arrested in 2019 after investigators monitoring him found DNA corresponding to the semen found on Cahanes’ underwear. Advances in technology continued to advance the cold case even years later.
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At the time of his arrest, he lived in a 600-square-foot apartment while working as a dental hygienist in Jacksonville, Florida.
During his trial, Garner maintained his innocence. He testified that he was “quite promiscuous at that particular point in time,” but denied killing her, according to Orlando FOX 35.
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“If I had casual sex with Miss Cahanes, I probably wouldn’t remember being that long [ago]because it was nothing of a relationship, “he said, according to the station.