BELL GARDENS, Calif. (KABC) -- The wife of Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo pleaded not guilty Thursday to a grand jury indictment charging her with voluntary manslaughter in her husband's shooting death.
Lyvette Crespo, 43, is accused of shooting her husband three times in the chest at their home on Sept. 30, 2014. Authorities previously said that the couple got into an argument.
When their 19-year-old son Daniel Crespo, Jr. tried to intervene, father and son began fighting and Lyvette Crespo got her gun.
In previous interviews, Lyvette Crespo's attorney, Eber Bayona, has said she was a longtime victim of domestic violence, but the mayor's brother, William Crespo, said those claims were a lie.
"She had her way of doing things and she chose to kill him," he said.
William Crespo says he was with Lyvette and Daniel Crespo hours before the shooting. He says Lyvette Crespo was angry about an alleged mistress that kept calling the former mayor. Now after six months, William Crespo says he is gratified that Lyvette Crespo has been indicted.
"She knew how to handle a gun. She could have took him out a different way. She voluntarily killed him. She took matters into her own hands," he said.
The initial investigation by the Bell Gardens Police Department indicated that it was a case of self-defense. Daniel Crespo Jr. called 911 to report the shooting, telling a dispatcher: "It wasn't my mom's fault. She was defending herself."
Bayona maintains that Lyvette Crespo was a "battered wife," and that the family was living a secret life of torment.
"They are entrapped in these situations and sometimes it's not easy for them to go and tell somebody," he said.
Detectives say the mayor's alleged extra marital affairs and Lyvette Crespo's training in handling weapons were part of the investigation. Other evidence reviewed included a text message Daniel Crespo allegedly sent Lyvette Crespo in April that said: "N it better b d last time U threaten to shoot me in d head!!!"
Attorney James Devitt filed a $53 million lawsuit on behalf of William Crespo and his mother against Lyvette Crespo for wrongful death last fall.
"I don't know how they couldn't say that she didn't have some planning involved here. She had threatened to kill him so many times and the gun, obviously, she went, to get it. In my mind, that's planning right there, that's premeditation," Devitt said.
Lyvette Crespo's bail was set at $150,000. She is scheduled to be back in court on May 29.
If convicted, she faces up to 21 years in state prison.
Bell Gardens mayor's wife indicted for voluntary manslaughter in husband's shooting death
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