Nuzzio Begaren pleaded not guilty at arraignment today after being indicted by the Orange County Grand Jury Thursday for the 1998 murder his prison-guard wife to collect $1 million in life insurance. According to the special circumstances murder indictment, the husband hired gang members to gun down Elizabeth Wheat Begaren after she stepped out of a minivan on the East Street offramp of the 91 Freeway in Anaheim just before midnight on Jan. 17, 1998.
Now 50, Nuzzio Begaren had told police 14 years ago that he was driving the minivan before it was forced off the freeway by robbers who took $4,700 and, after seeing his wife's California Department of Corrections badge, shot her dead.
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Anaheim Police have suspected Nuzzio Begaren since the beginning because he was recently married at the time of the slaying and he had taken out a $1 million insurance policy on his bridge, of which he has collected more than $900,000, according to authorities. He also had a felony domestic violence conviction on his record from his relationship with his previous wife.
New evidence led to a reopening of the case three months ago, according to police.
The Orange County Grand Jury also indicted a man suspected of being an occupant of the car that confronted the minivan, but 36-year-old Guillermo Espinoza remains a fugitive. The two others believed to have been in the car, Joel Louis Sandoval, 36, and Rafael Garcia Miranda, 45, were charged with murder in February.