NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Joseph Belstadt, who in November was convicted of killing a 17-year-old high school acquaintance more than 28 years ago, has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
During Friday's sentencing, Mandy's mother, Lorraine Steingasser, made an emotional plea to the judge.
"He has been free for 28 years, and he should be sentenced for no less," she said.
However, Belstadt has continued to maintain his innocence.
"I would like to say to Mandy's friends and family, I am truly sorry for the pain and suffering you have all gone through over all these years. But I am not the person that killed Mandy. I am innocent, and I have been saying that since day one," Belstadt said.
Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman responded to that plea.
"My response to that is we put out the evidence before a jury, that jury found this defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jury's verdict stands and they found the proper verdict in this case," Seaman said.
On Nov. 16 last year, Belstadt was found guilty of murder in connection with the death of Steingasser, whose body was found strangled in Bond Lake Park several weeks after she was last seen getting into Belstadt’s car in North Tonawanda in 1993.
Police had long considered Belstadt, 46 at the time of his conviction, the prime suspect in the killing. But it wasn’t until April of 2018, some 25 years after Steingasser’s death, that he was charged after a review of DNA evidence using more sophisticated means than existed back in 1993.
Since his arrest more than three-and-a-half years ago, Belstadt, had been free on $250,000 bail.