Mother of accused killer sentenced in witness tampering case



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Catalina Ruffin-Sinclair, the mother of a man who is charged with shooting three witnesses against him in a home invasion case, killing one of them, was sentenced on Friday.

Ruffin-Sinclair, 52, showed up for her sentencing hearing at the Orange County Courthouse Friday morning. Ruffin-Sinclair changed her plea to guilty at a hearing in February.

A judge sentenced Ruffin-Sinclair to 51 weeks in jail, followed by 18 months probation.  She did not speak during the sentencing hearing and was taken into custody immediately after.

Ruffin-Sinclair admitted she tried to bribe one of the victims who were set to testify against her son, Bessman Okafor, in the brutal home invasion last May.

Prosecutors said they had a note from her car with directions to the scene of the home invasion. They said that one of the witnesses said Ruffin-Sinclair offered her a car, cash and even a hotel room in order to convince her not to testify against Okafor.

Prosecutors said that in September, after his mother's bribery attempt failed, Okafor, with the help of several others, went back to the scene of the home invasion to kill the victims so they could not testify.

Alex Zaldivar was murdered, the other two survived.

Zaldivar's father blames Okafor's mother for the murder too.

"It's disgusting what she was doing. They sit in the back of the courtroom crying. I don't give a blank, because my son is dead because of her as well. She should have taken control of her son. Put his butt in prison. Because that's what I would have done," said Rafael Zaldivar.

Okafor violated home-confinement restrictions dozens of times but the jail never notified a judge.

Zaldivar said he has notified the county that he's suing over the home confinement violations.

"Alex could have been saved 100 times. All they needed to do is write the letter, text, email, call the judge. They didn't do one [expletive] thing, nothing to save my son. I hold them accountable as well," said Zaldivar

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