On Wednesday, four people were sentenced in the December 2015 abduction and torture of two University of Rochester students, the Washington Post reports.
Nicholas Kollias and Ani Okeke Ewo, both 21-year-old students, were lured to a house several miles from campus for what they believed was a party. Ewo and a female acquaintance had been flirting via Facebook, and that woman had invited them over.
However, it turned out to be a trap. In the moments after Ewo and Kollias arrived, the house went dark and a group of masked men pounced on the pair, binding them in duct tape and taking them into a bathroom. Over the next 40 hours, the pair were repeatedly tortured and sexually abused, including being cut with knives and a chainsaw and being doused with flammable liquids. Kollias was shot in his legs.
The following day, a police SWAT team entered the house, rescuing the students, and nine people were eventually arrested and charged in the horrific incident.
Matthew Schwartz, one of the lead prosecutors in the case, marveled that the students were able to survive.
“Something particularly horrible like this,” Schwartz told the Chicago Tribune, “sometimes it’s worse than homicide. The torture that went on is almost indescribable.”
Lydell Strickland, who was found guilty of more than two dozen charges, including kidnapping, assault, gang assault and sexual abuse, was sentenced to 155 years to life in prison. David Alcaraz-Ubiles, one of his co-defendants, was found guilty of kidnapping and weapons charges and sentenced to 15 years in prison, which he will serve after completing a separate 15-year sentence for an unrelated crime.
The remaining two, Inalia Rolldan and Ruth Lora, were each given seven-year sentences after being convicted on kidnapping and weapons charges. Rolldan and Lora were at the house where the students were held captive but did not participate in the torture, according to the report.
The remaining five defendants have all already pleaded guilty to various roles in the incident. In November, four of those defendants received sentences ranging from 13 to 35 years in prison.
According to the Post, Kollias and Ewo, both of whom played on the university's football team, were targeted because Strickland and his co-defendants mistakenly believed that they were involved in the robbery of a group of drug dealers in November 2015. The defendants convinced a woman to flirt with Ewo on Facebook. When the woman invited him to a party, Ewo asked if he could bring along Kollias.
“The second victim [Kollias] being involved was pure happenstance,” Schwartz told the Tribune.