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Man who threw acid on stranger outside laundromat sentenced to six years in prison

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A transient who threw sulfuric acid on a stranger as she washed clothes at a Golden Hill laundromat was sentenced Wednesday to six years in state prison.

Arturo Jose Reyes, 56, pleaded guilty last year to assault with a caustic chemical and was initially scheduled to be sentenced in November, but criminal proceedings were suspended after his attorney told a judge that she doubted her client's ability to understand the court proceedings.

Reyes -- who has a 1989 conviction for vehicular manslaughter --was declared mentally competent in January.

Authorities said the victim spotted Reyes sitting in a dark blue BMW as she was walking into a coin-operated laundry on 25th Street just east of downtown San Diego around 5:45 a.m. last Sept. 22.

Lizet Lopez, a 32-year-old wife and mother, said she felt something was "very wrong'' as Reyes approached her in the parking lot.

"He said, 'You are throwing the devil at me,''' Lopez said in a statement to the court.

The woman said Reyes threw the acid on her, burning and stinging her face and back. Lopez said she was hospitalized for two days and was in pain for a month.

She said she no longer feels safe and secure and is afraid to leave the house.

"There are times that I feel ugly,'' Lopez said. "I feel like I am being followed everywhere.''

Authorities said Lopez suffered second-degree burns with visible blisters on her eyes, cheek and buttocks.

"This was completely unprovoked, unjustified,'' prosecutor Elizabeth Furnari told Judge Laura Halgren.

The judge called the crime "shocking,'' while noting that Reyes was under some mental delusion at the time of the attack. The judge said prison officials should do a full psychiatric evaluation of Reyes so he can get treatment for his mental disorder.

Reyes, who also sustained second-degree burns from the acid -- the kind found in drain cleaner -- was arrested at a nearby gas station shortly after the attack. Authorities said he was homeless but had nearly $11,000 in cash in

his car.

"He's very sad about what happened,'' Deputy Public Defender Abbey Noel told the judge.

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