HOUSTON (AP) -- A Houston-area man has been sentenced to life in prison for the 1982 slaying of his girlfriend in a case reopened years after her death.

A jury in Houston on Thursday sentenced 65-year-old Manuel Richard Pena after convicting him of murder. Prosecutors say Pena strangled 19-year-old Sherri Strong and made it look like she killed herself.

Investigators say Strong was found dead on June 16, 1982, in Pena s garage. The Harris County Sheriff s Office says Pena told authorities that Strong hanged herself and he put her body on the floor before calling for help.

Cold case investigators reopened the case after reviewing Pena s violent criminal history since 1982. He was arrested in 2011 and convicted Wednesday.

The defense said Strong was depressed after believing Pena s ex-wife wanted a reconciliation.

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