Agustin Armaraz Espinoza was sentenced in Santa Ana today to 25 years to life in state prison for murdering his wife after she asked him to move out because he was unemployed, had gambled away $100,000 of his pension money and had a mistress on the side.
A jury had found the 58-year-old Santa Anan guilty of first-degree murder on Feb. 27.
When Marisela Espinoza failed to show up to work at Alcoa Fastening Systems in Fullerton for two days in July 2010, concerned co-workers contacted the Santa Ana Police Department, whose officers found her body in the couple's bedroom in the 2400 block of North Wright Street. Her car was still in the driveway, but her husband and his car were gone, so police broadcast his license plate number.
Later that same day, Agustin was stopped in his car while entering the U.S. from Mexico. It was later determined that before he left Santa Ana, he had washed his bloody hands and bagged his bloody clothing and the tripod he fatally beat his wife with before driving first to San Bernardino to use his dead wife's debit card and then on to Tijuana to dump the incriminating evidence.
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Espinoza tearfully testified in his own defense that he had been drinking heavily before, in the heat of the moment, he conked his wife on the head with a tripod one time. Prosecutors countered she'd been struck in the head up to seven times--and also played up the couple's longtime marital problems as well as his gambling and side dish.
Rejecting the defense's argument that Espinoza was guilty of either second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter, jurors took only 90 minutes to convict him of first-degree murder in February. Unlike his tearful demeanor on the witness stand, Espinoza was stone faced as the verdict was read.