LOS ANGELES (AP) — The abused wife of a suburban Los Angeles mayor who gunned him down in their home was sentenced Friday to three months in jail by a judge who called the case a textbook study of domestic violence destined to end tragically.
Lyvette Crespo, 45, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for shooting Daniel Crespo three times in the chest to protect herself and their son during a fight at their Bell Gardens condominium on Sept. 30, 2014.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy said she initially was skeptical of handing down the light term agreed to by prosecutors until she reviewed the voluminous grand jury transcripts, psychological reports and a presentencing investigation and saw how Daniel Crespo abused and controlled his wife, son and daughter.
“It was inevitable this was not going to end well,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think it was inevitable that Daniel Crespo was the one who was going to end up dead.”
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Kennedy said she was also swayed after the couple’s son spoke in favor of the plea deal, describing how his family both loved and feared his father and his violent outbursts.
“There was good in him, but he had a lot of demons and, unfortunately, his demons won,” said Daniel Nicholas Crespo, 20. “I feel if my mother had not done what she did it would have been a lot worse.”
Lyvette Crespo wept as her son spoke. She thanked the judge, detectives and prosecutors before being taken from the courtroom in handcuffs.
The couple had been together since they were teens. Lyvette Crespo got pregnant with their daughter when she was 15 and had been physically and emotionally abused for years by Daniel Crespo, who had flaunted affairs he had with other women, the judge said.
Lyvette Crespo said she was acting in self-defense after he punched their son in the face on the stairs of their home.
The son called 911 to report the shooting, telling a dispatcher: “He’s on the floor dying. He hurt me.”
The couple’s turbulent relationship included bitter text messages and voicemail recordings. Kennedy noted that Lyvette Crespo was no Mother Teresa and had engaged in bad behavior, childish name calling and had scrawled the word “whore” on the car of one of her husband’s mistresses.
William Crespo, brother of the former mayor, argued that Lyvette Crespo could have sought a restraining order and deserved a stiff prison sentence for what he said was a planned killing.
“You can’t take the law into your own hands and that’s exactly what she did,” he said in a statement read by his lawyer. “She chose to execute him in cold blood.”
Kennedy said that while it seemed to an outside observer that Lyvette Crespo should have walked away from her husband, it was more complicated than that and she was unable to free herself from the cycle of violence.
“But for what happened on Sept. 30, this would still be going on,” Kennedy said. “Because you wouldn’t have left him. He wouldn’t have left.”
Daniel Crespo, a probation officer, was mayor of the city of about 42,000 residents.
After his wife is freed from jail, she will serve five years of probation, perform 500 hours of community service and take an anger management class.