The most prolific serial killer in modern Latvian history was sentenced Thursday to life in prison after being convicted of murdering 13 elderly women, prosecutors said.
Kaspars Petrovs, 27, was also convicted of robbery and inflicting serious bodily injury, prosecution spokeswoman Dzintra Vitolina said.
Petrovs had been charged with robbing and strangling 38 women between 2000 and 2003, but the Riga Regional Court said murder could only be proved in 13 of the cases.
Many of the other women were initially thought to have died of natural causes and were buried without undergoing autopsies, Vitolina said.
During the trial, Petrovs admitted robbing the women but said he strangled them only so they would lose consciousness. It was not immediately clear whether he would appeal.
Investigators said Petrovs, who had been homeless in Riga for three years, followed his victims home and entered their apartments by force or by posing as a worker with the country's state-owned natural gas company. Once inside, they said, Petrovs would kill his victims and rob them.
At several of the crime scenes, there were no obvious signs of struggle and police initially assumed some victims had died of natural causes.
Petrovs apologized to victims' families in court Thursday and asked for their forgiveness, Baltic news agency BNS reported.
"I can not return the victims to life by words, but I wish they were still alive, that nothing had happened and I wasn't here. I would rather be sitting on the street, subsisting on bread and water," he was quoted as saying.