Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wife killer sentenced to life without parole in Waco, TX

A Waco man was sentenced to life without parole for the hammer bashing death of his wife, 33 year old Rosario Moreno, on May 11 in front of her children, now 5 and 8. A week before, a judge gave the victim and her kids a temporary restraining order ordering the perp, 29 year old Robert Chavira Espinosa, to stay away from her and her children. The restraining order was based on two assaults in April 2009. Espinoza pled guilty to a count of capital murder yesterday in exchange for not facing the death penalty. State District Judge Ralph Strother accepted his guilty plea after the defendant was told that he'd spend the rest of his life in prison.

Before 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother accepted Espinosa’s guilty plea Tuesday, he asked Espinosa whether he understood that the plea would result in him dying in prison. Espinosa responded, “Yes, sir.”

McLennan County prosecutor Edward Vallejo said the district attorney’s office offered the plea deal after carefully weighing all facets of the crime. That included Espinosa’s background and the “traumatic damage” the trial would have caused his children, who were the only witnesses to the crime.

“This plea was fully and extensively discussed with and agreed to by Rosario Moreno’s family members, who continue to be in our thoughts and prayers,” Vallejo said.

Espinosa’s defense lawyer, Waco attorney Russ Hunt, said Espinosa had “a number of mental health issues.” However, he was legally sane at the time of the offense, he said. Espinosa’s actions were partly fueled by his drinking too much alcohol the night of the murder, Hunt said."I have no doubt Robert wishes he hadn’t done this,” Hunt said. “But wishing can’t change this.”

Gladys Moreno, a 19-year-old cousin, walked Espinosa through the days and weeks after the attack. She talked about the family’s daily trips to Temple to see Moreno in the hospital, how the doctors showed them photos of her brain bulging out of her skull and the agonizing decision to take her off life support.

Gladys Moreno also talked about how the family struggled with whether to let Moreno’s children see her in the hospital and how traumatizing it was for them once they were allowed to visit. Moreno had always loved her hair, but because of the attack, her head had to be shaved and was covered in stitches, she said.

“You don’t see them, the questions they ask us, the stuff they’re going through,” Gladys Moreno told Espinosa, referring to the children.

The victim's sister, Elena Moreno said that though she plans to raise her niece and nephew, “the love I can give them will never be nearly as much as the love my sister could have given them.” Then she had words for her sister's killer. She said the children will learn to hate their father, though the family used to think he was a good person. The victim's sister also said that Espinosa deserved to die. “The pain that you’ve left us with will never leave. Why did you sink to such a crime that’s so bad we cannot find a name for it?”
Though the family asked the killer why he killed their cousin and sister, they never got a straight ansewr. The only answer recieved from Espinosa was “I don’t know why.”

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