Bell Gardens mayor's brother sues mayor's wife for $50M

BELL GARDENS, Calif. (KABC) -- The brother of slain Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo has filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against his sister-in-law.

William Crespo is suing Lyvette Crespo, 43, for killing his brother. Detectives say she shot the 45-year-old mayor during a family fight in their home on Sept. 30.

No charges have been filed in the case, but the lawsuit alleges Lyvette shot Daniel "with malice and in cold blood."

"She said she was gonna divorce my brother when the kids turned 18. The kids turned 18, my brother went and got himself another girlfriend, and she got jealous," William Crespo said.

Documents state the couple began fighting because Lyvette wouldn't let her husband sleep. Their 19-year-old son, Daniel Crespo Jr., intervened, and began fighting with his father. That's when Lyvette opened a safe, grabbed a gun, and shot her husband several times in the torso, the lawsuit said. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was shortly pronounced dead.

The couple's 19-year-old son, Daniel Crespo Jr., told the 911 operator just after the shooting that his mother was defending herself and that his dad had hurt him.

Daniel Crespo Jr. can be heard screaming, wailing and pleading for help in the emotional two-minute phone call.

"Hi, I have to report an emergency. My parents got into an argument and there were shots fired," he struggles to tell the 911 dispatcher.

"It wasn't my mom's fault. She was defending herself," he says.

"So your mom shot your father, is that what you're saying," the dispatcher asks him, and he responds, "Yes."

"He hurt me, he's on the floor dying. OK. He hurt me," he says.

Lyvette Crespo's attorney, Eber Bayona, says she was a "battered wife," and that the family was living a secret life of torment.

Daniel Crespo's family disagrees.

"His son had very minor injuries, maybe there was some punching going on, maybe one shot, a warning shot up in the ceiling, would have done it. You don't shoot someone five times and kill them," said William Crespo's attorney, Jay Devitt.

During the press conference Monday, Devitt showed a text message he says Lyvette sent Daniel Crespo months ago, threatening to shoot him in the head.

"If your marriage is in trouble, get a divorce not a gun," Devitt said.

Sheriff's officials said they would complete their investigation and then present the case to the District Attorney's Office, which will decide if any criminal charges are warranted.

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