Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Man" sentenced to 80 to life for murdering wife in front of 4 year old son

A 30 year old Omaha, NE "man" who beat, choked, and stabbed his wife to death in front of their 4 year old son was sentenced to 80 years to life by Douglas County District Judge J. Michael Coffey yesterday afternoon. Sonia Espinoza-Lucero, 34, was brutalkly murdered by her husband Johnny Rix, described as controlling and violent. Deputy Douglas County Attorney Kim Pankonin said that the murder scene was the worst she saw in 16 years as a prosecutor, but the DV leading up to it was all too typical. Rix plead no contect to murder and child endangerment.

A sweet woman, Sonia Espinoza-Lucero kept the couple's volatile relationship secret from her coworkers, friends, even family. She worked hard and raised the couple’s three sons — including 1-year-old twins, Pankonin said. And she dealt with the neverending specter of her husband’s temper.

Pankonin said Rix was "insanely jealous" and controlling. He drove his wife to work, constantly called to check on her and hounded her at home. It was the same behavior Rix was accused of in the late 1990s.

In that case, a Grand Island, NE woman's family helped their daughter escape the relationship while Rix was at work. "This was not unusual conduct for the defendant. And it resulted in the senseless loss of a mom, sister and friend. It was a gruesome, horrible death she did not deserve," Pankonin told the court.

The 4 year old witnessed the beating and murder, and was also traumatized because his father tried to jump of of a fast food restraraunt with him before police intervened.

"By the child’s interview he saw a good portion of it,” said Pankonin. “He was able to act it out to a therapist and act it out with a doll so he saw a good portion of it which is very, very sad.” 

He made a big mistake, he left three little kids without mom and dad and the big kid, he got too many problems, too many psychological problems ‘cause he saw everything and right now his behavior is not really good,” said Sonia's brother, Alex Espinoza.

The sentence breakdown is 60 to life for 1st degree murder, and 20 years, served consecutively to the 60 to life term, for use of a weapon during a felony. Rix must serve 40 years, or half the minimum term, before parole, something Pankonin believes Rix will never be granted.

Though Rix apologized for the pain he cause his wife's family, Judge Coffey said that "people have described her death as ‘horrific.’If you saw what has been done here, that might be mild. It was completely senseless. Extremely violent. I only hope the children can somehow put it aside."

Judging from the aftereffects on the now 6 year old boy, it looks like that will be a long way off.

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