NEW YORK (AP) _ A man who posed as a firefighter to bluff his way into a woman's apartment said he had a death wish as he sexually tormented her for 13 hours and later fled.
``I just thought I would see America and die; you know, have the cops shoot me to death,'' Peter Braunstein, 43, said Monday before a judge sentenced him to 20 years to life in prison.
Braunstein, a former fashion writer, was convicted in May for kidnapping, robbing and sexually abusing a co-worker on Halloween 2005. He was on the run for six weeks before being captured in Tennessee.
Dressed as a firefighter, Braunstein set fires in the hallway outside the Manhattan apartment of his victim, an ex-colleague at Fairchild publications, parent of Women's Wear Daily and W magazine. Once inside, he drugged her, tied her to a bed, took off her clothes and videotaped her.
Braunstein's lawyer, Robert C. Gottlieb, argued during trial that his client was mentally ill and should not be held criminally responsible. He said Monday he would appeal the conviction.
State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber acknowledged that ``any sentence I impose on this profoundly disturbed man may result in his dying in jail.''
But he added: ``No rational system could view this situation in any way that would resolve this defendant of guilt.''
During the trial, jurors heard lurid testimony, including Braunstein's musings about sending Vogue editor Anna Wintour to a hell guarded by rats. They also heard excerpts from Braunstein's journals, in which he described posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim to get free meals while in Tennessee.
Given a chance to address the court, Braunstein told the judge he wanted to ``sort of explain the whole crime spree.''
``When I attacked the victim, I was in her apartment and after an hour it dawned on me I didn't know why I was there,'' he said. ``So I just watched the TV and waited until dawn and then I left.
``This irrationality continued throughout my quest. It was sort of suicide-based.''
Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal had asked the judge to sentence Braunstein to the maximum of 25 years to life, calling him ``an angry, determined and vengeful man'' and ``a danger to society.''
Outside court, Braunstein's father expressed disapproval of the sentence.
``I think the sentence was very harsh,'' Alberto Braunstein said. ``It was like he killed somebody.''
But defense attorney Robert Gottlieb said: ``The judge is to be commended for not bowing to the screaming tabloid headlines.''
Last week, in a nine-page letter sent to the judge asking for leniency, Braunstein described planning the crime _ conceding a key prosecution point _ while arguing that he was mentally ill.