AURORA, Colo. — A man has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a 57-year-old woman in her Aurora home, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. 

Last month, a jury found Terrence Terell Straughter, 51, guilty of first-degree murder in the 2017 death of Dana Sems. He was handed down the life sentence on Monday. 

According to the DA’s office, a mutual acquaintance took Straughter to Sems’ apartment on South Sable Boulevard on Dec. 11, 2017. Witnesses reported hearing Sems and Straughter arguing.  

The next day, a medical home alarm company was unable to contact Sems, who had a seizure disorder. Sems’ son went to check on her, according to the DA’s office, and found her battered body buried under a pile of clothes in her bedroom. 

Straughter was quickly identified as a suspect, and his DNA was later found on a piece of bratwurst lodged in Sems’ throat, the district attorney's office said. 

Terrence Terell Straughter, 51
Terrence Terell Straughter, 51.
Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office

A coroner report found that Sems had a broken neck, fractured ribs and cuts and bruises on her head, face, neck and body. The DA’s office said Straughter also put a lotion-like substance and salt on the body in an attempt to destroy evidence.

Straughter, a convicted felon, had served eight years in prison on a domestic violence assault, and had been out for less than six months when he met Sems, according to the DA’s office. He also has a domestic violence assault conviction out of Tennessee in 2005, Senior Deputy District Attorney Jake Adkins noted. 

“This trusting, gentle woman was violently murdered by a man she had befriended,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “She was likely unaware that this monster had a history of attacking women and had only recently been released from prison.He has proven that he is immune to rehabilitative efforts. The only way to keep the community safe is to keep him locked up forever, and that is precisely what the law requires.” 

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