LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A woman who shot and killed her husband, the mayor of the small Los Angeles suburb of Bell Gardens, during a heated argument at their home earlier this week did so after suffering years of abuse at his hands, her attorney said on Thursday.
Levette Crespo’s lawyer told reporters outside Bell Gardens City Hall that the stay-at-home mother, whom police questioned and released following the shooting on Tuesday, was a victim in the case along with her husband, Daniel Crespo.
“I think the evidence will corroborate she has been the victim of domestic violence for many years,” attorney Eber Bayona said. “What happened Tuesday in the Crespo home is a tragedy. Everyone is a victim.”
Claudia Osuna, an attorney for the couple’s son and daughter, said the children stood behind their mother.
Bayona added: “In this case, there may be a chance to learn about the difficult and intolerable home life for this family.”
Crespo, 43, was arguing with her 45-year-old husband at their condominium in Bell Gardens on Tuesday when Daniel Crespo Jr. intervened, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials say.
Father and son got into a physical fight and Levette Crespo got a gun and shot her husband multiple times, according to the sheriff’s department. Daniel Crespo was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police have not said who owned the gun and no charges have been filed in the case. In addition to serving as mayor of Bell Gardens, Crespo worked as a Los Angeles County probation officer for over 20 years.
Neighbors had never complained of arguments coming from the house, Daniel Crespo’s friend Joaquin Madrigal, who met the mayor 25 years ago, told Reuters in an interview.
“It was a huge surprise,” he said in Spanish. “We never thought anything would happen in his house.”
Madrigal described Levette Crespo as quiet, serious and reserved, a woman who tried to keep herself and her children out of her husband’s political world.
A friend of Daniel Crespo said he was friendly and enjoyed karaoke to relieve the pressures of his job.
“It’s very hard to picture what they’re saying,” said Albert Bernal, who met Crespo during his 2000 campaign and was helping plan a vigil for the mayor on Friday evening.
“I just want justice for my brother,” the mayor’s brother, William Crespo, said outside City Hall.
Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Los Angeles; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney