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Man sentenced to life in murder of Sarai Sierra

Sarai Sierra, 33, a Staten Island woman who

Sarai Sierra, 33, a Staten Island woman who was killed in Istanbul, Turkey, in January 2013, is shown in an undated family photo. Photo Credit: AP

A 48-year-old Turkish man was sentenced to life in a Turkish prison for the murder of a Staten Island mom killed while visiting Istanbul last year to pursue her photography hobby, according to news reports.

Ziya Tasali was apprehended last March near the Syrian border, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Sarai Sierra, 33, yesterday. He was also sentenced to 5½ years for sexual assault and 2½ years for theft, which will run consecutively to the life sentence, said Reuters.

Sierra, who lived in Silver Lake, vanished after arriving in Turkey in January 2013, triggering a search. Her body was found Feb. 1 .

Tasali admitted killing Sierra after she refused to kiss him, but denied the rape and theft charges. His lawyer had argued that substance abuse left Tasali unable to appreciate the consequence of his actions.

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