The wife of slain Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo pleaded guilty Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter for shooting him three times in their home just over two years ago.
Lyvette Crespo, 45, is facing three months in county jail, 500 hours of community service, an anger management course and five years formal probation under a disposition reached with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, according to Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman.
Crespo is set to be formally sentenced Jan. 5 in connection with the Sept. 30, 2014, shooting death of her husband, Daniel Crespo Sr.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy noted that she will review a probation report once it is completed to determine if she will go along with the disposition. If not, Crespo would have the option of withdrawing her plea, the judge said.
One of the woman’s attorneys told the judge that she wanted to plead no contest, but the prosecutor insisted on a guilty plea and Crespo eventually acquiesced after speaking with her lawyers.
“She should plead guilty to what she did,” Silverman said outside court. “The factual basis is that she shot him three times in the chest.”
Outside court, Crespo’s brother, William, objected to the plea agreement, which he said he heard about for the first time during the hearing.
“I’m hurt. I’m confused, all kinds of emotions are going on right now,” he told reporters. “I’m so shocked. I still can’t believe that she’s gonna get away with this … She should pay for what she did. She killed my brother.”
He said he believes his sister-in-law’s sentence “should be a long time.”
Crespo’s attorneys have claimed that she shot and killed her husband in self-defense after enduring years of abuse at his hands.
At a hearing last month, defense lawyer Eber Bayona said he thought the two sides had reached a deal, but told the judge that the offer apparently was not approved by supervisors in the District Attorney’s Office.
Another of her attorneys, Roger Lowenstein, told reporters last month that two deals had been on the table. The first, involving a plea of involuntary manslaughter, was withdrawn by prosecutors who then sought a voluntary manslaughter plea. Both deals were for probation with no jail time, he said.
“Lyvette Crespo is innocent. This is a self-defense case,” Lowenstein said, alleging her husband “tortured (her) for 28 years.”
He said then that it made sense for Crespo to take the deal and “start healing” given the risk of a possible 21-year sentence and a mandatory 10-year term for using a firearm if she had gone to trial and been convicted.
Crespo was indicted in April 2015 on the voluntary manslaughter charge.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators have said the mayor and his wife were arguing when their then-19-year-old son, Daniel Crespo Jr., intervened, leading to a struggle between father and son.
Lyvette Crespo claims she was protecting the couple’s son when she grabbed a handgun and shot her husband, who had allegedly punched the young man in the face.
Bayona contends that Daniel Crespo “was a man who abused not only his wife but other women” and mentally and physically abused his children.
William Crespo has denied allegations that his brother was abusive, but said the mayor had a series of extramarital affairs that angered his wife.
A civil lawsuit filed Oct. 20, 2014, by Daniel Crespo’s mother alleges her daughter-in-law picked a fight with him knowing that their son would intervene, then opened a safe, grabbed a gun and killed her husband “with malice and in cold blood.”
–City News Service