Thursday, September 16, 2010

Text messaging "lovers" receive life without parole in murder of woman's husband

Monterey County, CA Judge Larry Hayes sentenced a mother and her "lover" to life without parole for kidnapping and killing the woman's husband.  Marisela Zarate Andrade, 33, and Sergio de la Cruz, 34, were sentenced to life without parole Tuesday, September 14 for the murder of Jose "Nicco" Zarate of Wasco, CA. Zarate was kidnapped April 11, 2008 from his home and his body was found three days later in the trunk of a Ford Escort near Gonzales, CA vineyard with his hands and feet bound with duct tape, shot between the eyes.

The evidence which convicted the two was collected by Monterey County Sheriff's detective Brett Speirs. These included text messages which spoke of how Marisela and De La Cruz intended to kidnap and kill Jose. Marisela would drug her husband's coffee with chloroform, then De La Cruz and another man would kidnap Jose from his Wasco home. After killing Jose, Marisela wanted De La Cruz to behead her husband to make sure "the rat (is) very dead." The pistol used to kill Jose was recovered in San Francicso during a drug raid.

She gave police different statements about the last time she saw him. When confronted with the text messages, she admitted she participated in the plan to have her husband abducted, but insisted she only wanted him beaten up, a claim she maintained at trial.

Noting that he had received a letter from Zarate Andrade prior to sentencing, Hayes said Tuesday the woman was in denial. He said the length of time the two spent planning the murder, and the content of the text messages, showed the extent of the cruelty they intended to inflict on the victim.

Judge Hayes said,"In some ways you are both very lucky the DA did not choose to (seek) the death penalty in this case. That's how atrocious this murder was." Prosecutor David Gross could have sought the death penalty because Zarate's murder occurred duing the course of a kidnapping.

Besides the life without parole sentenced, Judge Hayes sentenced Marisela to an additional 8 years for kidnapping and De La Cruz to an additional 33 to life for kidnapping and executing the victim. Hayes stayed both sentences. The victim's family attended the sentencing.

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