Lyvette Crespo, the wife of Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo, was indicted by a grand jury Thursday and charged with voluntary manslaughter for the Sept. 30, 2014, fatal shooting of her husband during a domestic dispute, KTLA reported.
Lyvette, as well as the couple’s 19-year-old son, Daniel Jr., who witnessed the shooting, claims she fired in self-defense, but according to the indictment, Lyvette “unlawfully and without malice” took her husband’s life “upon a sudden quarrel and heat of passion.”
On the day of the fatal shooting, the couple had been in an argument when it escalated to a physical level. Daniel was said to have starting hitting his wife, when their son attempted to intervene. When Daniel also began punching his son in the face, that’s when Lyvette grabbed a gun and shot him three times.
Immediately after the shooting, the younger Daniel called 911 to report what had happened. On the 911 recording, Daniel is heard telling the dispatcher that it was not his mother’s fault and “she was defending herself.”
However, the family of Daniel Crespo, who was known to local residents as a family man, said Lyvette was jealous and killed him in cold blood. Daniel’s brother, William, said the day of the shooting, the couple fought over money, but later said the fight stemmed from Daniel’s infidelities, which were said to have run rampant throughout the couple’s entire marriage. William also believes the shooting was premeditated murder and the family originally pushed for murder charges against Lyvette.
“I don’t think it’s going to matter whether he had a girlfriend, whether he had 10 girlfriends,” said attorney Jay Devitt. “That doesn’t justify killing your husband. You just can’t blow away your husband with three shots to the chest because he’s got a girlfriend. That’s where you call the divorce attorney.”
But Lyvette’s attorney, Eber Bayona, argued that while the couple may have fought over his infidelities, that wasn’t the motivation behind her pulling the trigger.
Bayona told NBC Los Angeles that the abuse with the couple, who were high school sweethearts and had been married for nearly 30 years, started when Lyvette was just 15-years-old, and pregnant with their oldest child, Crystal.
The abuse, some of which was documented with photographs, continued throughout the course of their marriage and would often include Daniel dragging his wife by the hair and hitting her with his fists or other objects. Bayona said on one occasion, Daniel caught Lyvette looking at a photo of another elected official on the computer and “snapped.” Daniel allegedly smashed his wife’s face into the computer screen while asking if she found the man attractive.
Lyvette’s family, including the couple’s own two children, who were also victims of both verbal and physical abuse at the hands of their father, support the allegations of violence. Daniel also apparently made threats against Lyvette if she ever tried to leave or report the abuse.
Furthermore, at least one of Daniel’s former girlfriends have come forward to corroborate his abusive history, but Daniel’s family maintains that the allegations are untrue.
Lyvette, who also has a $53 million wrongful death suit filed against her by her late husband’s family, pleaded not guilty and is being held with a $150,000 bail. She will return to court May 29, and if convicted, could face up to 21 years in prison.