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Man sentenced for murder in which woman burned alive

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Wednesday for his part in a brutal 1997 home invasion in which a woman was burned alive and a man tortured with an iron, the Manhattan District Attorney's office said.

Daniel Santana, 35, a fugitive for 11 years, was convicted of murder with "depraved indifference to human life" and kidnapping charges on June 13.

"The facts of this case are truly chilling," District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement. "A woman was burned alive, individuals were tortured, and the perpetrators of this heinous crime were at large for more than a decade."

According to court documents, Santana and armed accomplices entered a Harlem apartment on December 7, 1997 looking for drugs. Three people inside were tied up with wire hangers, and a man was tortured with a hot iron and shocked with electricity.

Another victim, Carmen Maria, had acetone poured down her pants by a co-defendant, Rafael Perez, and was set on fire. She died eight hours later with burn injuries over nearly all her body.

The major break in the case came in 2001 when an incarcerated cousin of Santana's told detectives about Santana's involvement in the crime. Santana was arrested in 2008.

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's office said the surviving victims were not located until 2008 because they had fled the country without reporting the crime after receiving threats from associates of Santana and Perez.

Perez is still a fugitive and is thought to be in the Dominican Republic.

(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr., editing by Chris Michaud and Cynthia Johnston)

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