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Man sentenced in the murder of Muskegon woman Laura Sanchez

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Posted at 10:48 AM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 17:22:23-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Kristopher Joesel, 38, was sentenced Thursday for the murder of Laura Sanchez.

He will spend between 33 years and 90 years behind bars.

Joesel was found guilty earlier this year in the stabbing death of Laura Sanchez, 33, which happened on July 18, 2020, at the Amazon Apartments on Western Avenue.

He was convicted of second-degree murder after a jury trial in May.

Family of Laura Sanchez gathered in a Muskegon County courtroom Thursday morning for Joesel’s sentencing hearing.

Loved ones arrived wearing shirts that read Justice for Laura.

Her mother began giving a victim impact statement in court, while Joesel listened leaning against a wall before she began crying and let an attorney finish reading.

“I’ll never be able to see her laugh, smile, or hold her in my arms when she’s crying,” it said.

Her mother said that she has since moved out of Muskegon so she doesn’t have to drive by the scene of her daughter’s death.

Mirelda Sanchez-Tokarcyk, Laura’s sister, also read a statement before he received his sentence.

“When I was little, I prayed for a sister… because I had 4 brothers,” Sanchez-Tokarcyk said while looking directly at Joesel.

“When Kristopher murdered my sister, he destroyed my family in so many ways.”

She held up a folded piece of paper mimicking the length of the knife he used to stab her sister.

“You did it because you’re an entitled, arrogant, degenerate scum. You’re weak and you’re a liar… you have ugliness in your heart and soul.”

“I don’t forgive you,” Laura’s brother Roberto said during his statement. “I don’t see how anyone could do what you did.”

Salvador Sanchez, another of Laura’s brothers, was the last to read a victim impact statement in court Thursday.

“I lost my younger sister, my baby sister,” Salvador said “I lost my best friend, the most trusted individual in my life… there’s so much I’d trade to have her back.”

Before Muskegon County Judge Annette R. Smedley issued a sentence, assistant prosecutor Katie Norton spoke about Joesel failing to show remorse for his crime.

She claimed that Joesel had called the jury that convicted him “redneck idiots”, and said that he hoped the entire Sanchez family “gets hit by a truck”.

Joesel declined the opportunity to speak in court Thursday.

He and several loved ones did submit written letters to the judge ahead of sentencing.

“This was a choice he made… was it because he was intoxicated? Maybe,” Judge Smedley said.

“Because of a choice he made, a young woman is dead, and her family will have to live that, along with the defendant, for the rest of their lives.”

She explained that despite requests from some of Laura’s family members that Joesel receive life in prison without the possibility of parole, she is not able to pass down that type of sentence because of his conviction being for second-degree murder.

Joesel received a sentence of 33 years to 90 years in prison, with credit for 705 days he’s already served.

The Sanchez family shared a statement with FOX 17 following Thursday's sentencing.

The Sanchez family would like to thank the judge and the court for providing an atmosphere where the facts were presented in a lawful and fair manner. We are pleased with the decision at sentencing.

In prison, Joesel will not be able to hurt another person or affect another community.

We were grateful to have the prosecutors on this case advocate with such compassion and care for Laura. In particular, Katie Norton and her dedication, is a great asset to the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office.

Thank you to all those who walked alongside our family through this path; navigating through the legal system. You truly stuck through until the end. That is a love that is genuine.

Laura was always there to help. Her memory will stay alive with what she brought into this world: her willingness to help, her charm, her smile her total and authentic self. From the moment Laura was brought into life, she gave us the feelings of butterflies, excitement and love. Laura will always be remembered as a beautiful soul. She lived and died a hero, and even upon her death she kept giving.

Laura was an organ donor. We’d like to encourage others to consider being an organ and tissue donor, just like Laura.

Feel free to put up her signs on July 18, the anniversary of departing earth or on her birthday.

The Case Leading Up to Conviction
Prosecutors showed a video during court proceedings back in September 2020, that appears to show the deadly attack in downtown Muskegon.

Muskegon County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Hosticka said at the time, in regards to the recording, "There's a video that really tells a story this man knew that this very small woman was behind him and his reaction, he had a knife in his hand, his reaction was to turn and stab her twice and killed her.”

Defense attorneys for Joesel spoke in court about a fight he was involved in inside a nearby bar prior to the stabbing.

A bartender who said he witnessed most of the incident said Joesel became upset after a brief conversation about beer.

Prosecutors said the fight was not relevant to the stabbing that happened later in the night. Laura Sanchez is not believed to have been involved in the altercation at the bar.

"She may have yelled at him and wanted words with him about what he was doing out on Western Avenue slashing tires," Hosticka told FOX 17.

"Really there is no way to explain it other than he wanted to get rid of her."

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