Jury convicts husband of strangling his wife

Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 5:45 PM
Martinez- Perez

A Durango man suspected of strangling his wife last year in the Lightner Creek Mobile Home Park was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder.

Silvino Martinez-Perez, 36, showed no obvious reaction as a jury foreman announced the verdicts.

First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. He was also found guilty of abusing a corpse and three counts of child abuse.

Martinez-Perez strangled his wife, Crystal Martinez-Perez, 33, after a lengthy argument in which she told him she wanted a divorce and that her body wasn’t his anymore.

Martinez-Perez admitted to strangling his wife in a recorded 911 call, which was played for jurors.

Defense lawyers said Martinez-Perez acted in the “heat of passion” and his actions weren’t premeditated and, therefore, didn’t amount to first-degree murder.

But prosecutors said Martinez-Perez told investigators he strangled Crystal for about two minutes, until she lost consciousness. He then strangled her again for about 50 seconds. That was long enough for him to form intent, said Deputy District Attorney Robert Barlow.

Jurors seemed to agree. They could have convicted him of lesser counts, including second-degree murder, manslaughter or criminal negligence resulting in homicide.

District Attorney Christian Champagne said he’s glad his office could help bring some closure and a sense of justice to the family.

“These cases are a tragedy,” he said. “These families are devastated, these victims’ lives will never be the same.”

A formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 1.