LOS ANGELES (AP) — The wife of a suburban Los Angeles mayor who was fatally shot in his home two years ago pleaded guilty Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter.
Lyvette Crespo entered the plea in Los Angeles County Superior Court in the killing of Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo, who was shot three times in the chest during an argument.
If the plea deal is accepted by a judge, Lyvette Crespo will be sentenced to three months in county jail, five years of probation, 500 hours of community service and must complete an anger management course.
The 45-year-old woman, who claimed she was a battered wife who acted in self-defense, sobbed as she left court with a scarf wrapped around her face and said nothing. She was ordered to return Jan. 5 for sentencing.
Lyvette Crespo told investigators she shot her husband in self-defense after he punched their son in the face when the son intervened during an argument.
Daniel Crespo Jr. told an emergency dispatcher: “He’s on the floor dying. He hurt me.”
The brother of Daniel Crespo objected to the terms of the deal outside of court, saying he was shocked his sister-in-law would serve so little time.
“I still can’t believe that she’s going to get away with this,” William Crespo said before breaking down and crying. “Three shots, not one. No warning. Just straight murder. ... Threw him on the floor like a dog and killed him. “
Lawyers for Lyvette Crespo had planned to use a battered-woman syndrome defense at trial.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said she had taken into account Lyvette Crespo’s claims she had acted in self-defense, as well as the challenge of presenting the case to a jury where domestic violence was an issue.
“That’s absolutely a huge issue in a case like this,” Silverman said. “She didn’t really have any documentation or any proof of her claims, but we still have to take them into account and do what we think’s right despite that.”
Daniel Crespo, 45, was a Los Angeles County probation officer who was elected in 2001 to the City Council of Bell Gardens. The mayor’s position rotated among council members.
The killing shocked the suburb of 43,000 residents as claims of infidelity and domestic violence came to light.
The couple were high school sweethearts who married as teens in 1986, but the relationship had been rough for years, according to their daughter.
Crystal Crespo told investigators that her father had verbally and physically abused her mother over two decades but she was never seriously injured and it wasn’t reported to authorities
The abuse had become more physical because of arguments over Daniel Crespo’s infidelity and the couple was sleeping in separate bedrooms, Crystal Crespo said.
William Crespo has disputed the abuse allegations and his attorney previously released text messages that showed Lyvette Crespo had threatened her husband.
Daniel Crespo allegedly replied in one text: “N it better b d last time U threaten to shoot me in d head!!!”
His mother filed a $53 million lawsuit calling Lyvette Crespo a “cold-blooded killer” who picked a fight with her husband knowing their son would intervene.