A 28-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 29 years to life in prison for raping his estranged wife in a hallway outside a room where their two young sons slept in Santa Ana before punching her in the head, cutting her with a blade, and then fleeing in her car.
Luis Javier Cervantes was convicted Jan. 20, 2017. The sentencing took some time as the attorneys in the case were discussing a post-conviction plea deal that failed to develop.
Cervantes was convicted of spousal rape, assault with intent to commit a sex offense, assault with a deadly weapon and car theft, all felonies.
Cervantes and the victim met while students at Santa Ana High School and began dating when they were about 16, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky. They have two sons, one born in 2007 and another in 2009, she added.
They dropped out of high school and would live with relatives, Bokosky said.
“They had issues, and dropping out of high school wasn’t helpful,” she said in her opening statement of the trial. “He had major jealousy issues.”
Cervantes also struggled with drug and alcohol dependency, Bokosky said.
The two married in 2011, and by the next year police came to their home when the two got into a physical struggle, Bokosky said.
Cervantes, high on drugs and fueled by jealousy, punched his wife in the face and choked her before slamming and easel across her back, Bokosky said. The case was eventually dropped because the victim declined to continue cooperating with authorities, she said.
In mid-April of 2015, the woman kicked Cervantes out of the 1-bedroom apartment where they were living in Santa Ana with her mother and the couple’s sons, Bokosky said.
“The two had another argument with the defendant constantly accusing (the victim) of cheating on him,” Bokosky said.
Early on April 29, 2015, the woman drove her mother to her job at midnight and then returned home with her two sons and put them to bed, Bokosky said.
Cervantes, meanwhile, had gotten into the apartment and waited for her in the bathroom next to the room where they slept, Bokosky said.
“He has a knife in his hand and shows her the butt of a gun,” Bokosky said. “He’s high and smells and she becomes even more afraid of him.”
Cervantes told his estranged wife to take off her clothes and, “She asks him, `Are you going to rape me?’ ” Bokosky said.
Cervantes demanded she take off her clothes and then he raped her, Bokosky said.
The defendant then said he wanted to win her back and that he’s so depressed he wants to kill himself, Bokosky said.
Cervantes demanded to look at her phone, but she kept putting him off and attempted to “talk him off the ledge,” Bokosky said.
The victim tried but failed to call 911 during the exchange and at some point the defendant punched his wife in the head, cutting her with the blade in his hand, Bokosky said.
The woman soon “realizes there’s a lot of blood” as it pools around her on the floor, Bokosky said.
“He flees to save himself,” Bokosky said. “He has no car so he picks up her keys and takes her car.”
The victim then managed to dial 911 and police arrested the defendant a day later, Bokosky said.
The victim required about 11 staples in her head, Bokosky said.
Cervantes’ trial attorney, Christian De Olivas, told jurors that his client “is not guilty of spousal rape.”
De Olivas conceded his client was guilty of assault and car theft.
“This is a case about passion,” De Olivas said.
“I feel bad for the victim — she is a victim,” De Olivas said. “He didn’t rape her and he didn’t break into the house.”
The defense attorney acknowledged that Cervantes is a jealous man and began “seeing things that were not there.”
De Olivas said his client had a box cutter in his hand when he slugged his wife, not a knife.
“That is why the victim didn’t die,” De Olivas said.
Cervantes went to his wife’s apartment to “reconcile” with her and to “see the children,” De Olivas said.
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