A jealous husband who stabbed and strangled his 19- year-old estranged wife at San Diego City College — carving the word “bitch” in her back — was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Armando Perez, 44, was convicted in September of first-degree murder and lying in wait in the Oct. 12, 2010, death of Diana Gonzalez.
“You butchered her,” Superior Court Judge Frederic Link told the defendant. “You knew what you were doing. You deserve to be put away for the rest of your life. You were cruel, you were vicious, you were callous.”
Link told Perez that he would have been facing capital punishment had it not been for Mexico’s extradition process, which bars the death penalty when a defendant is sent back to the United States.
After he killed the victim, Perez fled to his native Mexico and was a fugitive until his arrest in February 2012.
Three years ago, Perez pleaded guilty as his trial was about to begin, but an appeals court sent the case back to San Diego Superior Court, ruling that a judge erred by allowing the defendant to plead guilty without a lawyer in a case in which he faced a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Perez said he did not go to City College that night to kill Diana, but “lost his mind” when he saw her with another man. Perez said he killed his wife after she told him he would never see their 10-month-old daughter again.
“To me, I should have gotten the death penalty for what I did,” the defendant said. “I know it’s hard to forgive me after what I did to Diana. I am not that monster anymore that killed Diana.”
The victim’s sister, Janette Gonzalez, told the judge the pain of losing Diana is still raw.
She said Perez — who was 36 when his 18-year-old wife became pregnant – – didn’t even give her sister a chance to live.
“He’s worse than the devil,” Janette Gonzalez said.
Deputy District Attorney Jessica Lees told the jury that Perez waited for his wife, a student at SDCC, as classes let out the night of Oct. 12, 2010. Perez walked with Gonzalez the opposite way from where her parents were waiting to pick her up, then strangled her and stabbed her all over her body in a men’s bathroom.
The prosecutor said Perez became obsessed with Gonzalez and was abusive, causing her to take out a temporary restraining order against him a month before she was killed.
“Armando Perez stole Diana’s life,” the prosecutor said. “He stole her future. He stole her life.”
Defense attorney Bart Sheela told the judge that Perez will appeal.
—City News Service
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