A District Court judge on Friday found probable cause to support a first-degree murder charge against a Durango man suspected of strangling his wife earlier this year in the Lightner Creek Mobile Home Park.
Prosecutors played a 911 call and parts of a 2½-hour video confession Friday during a preliminary hearing for Silvino Martinez-Perez, who is suspected of killing his wife, Crystal Martinez-Perez, 33, late April 16 in unit No. 7 at the mobile home park, 907 Lightner Creek Road (County Road 207).
Silvino Martinez-Perez, 35, called 911 at 12:01 a.m. April 17 to say he killed his wife.
He sounded calm and made no apparent effort to cover up his actions.
“Yeah, I just killed my wife,” he said when the dispatcher answered the phone.
He went on to say his three children, a girl and two boys – all under the age of 10 – were asleep inside the house. He went outside and held his hands up until law enforcement arrived.
During an interview with investigators for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, Martinez-Perez said he and his wife were having marital problems. The night of the incident, he walked behind her and she closed her phone, which made him suspicious she was texting another man.
Later that night, after she went to sleep, Martinez-Perez checked her phone and confirmed his suspicions, he told investigators. He confronted her about it, which led to a lengthy argument in the kitchen. The argument went on for so long that they went outside for two cigarette breaks. One of their sons also woke up during the argument, and they sent him back to bed.
Crystal Martinez-Perez told her husband he would never have her body again and headed to bed. Silvino Martinez-Perez approached her from behind and put her in a choke hold for about 50 seconds, causing her to pass out, he told investigators. He then used his hands to strangle her on the floor of the living room.
After a few minutes, he tried to revive her by performing chest compressions and CPR. After that was unsuccessful, Martinez-Perez said he had vaginal intercourse with his wife’s body.
He then dressed her, called his sister and then called 911, according to his recorded interview with investigators.
He is charged with first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and one count of abusing a corpse. For someone to be found guilty of first-degree murder, prosecutors must prove premeditation.
Defense lawyers argued Martinez-Perez didn’t act with deliberation or intent before suffocating his wife. No appreciable amount of time passed between the argument and the strangulation, which means there was no time to reflect and formulate intent, said public defense lawyer Jonathan Jourdane.
“Nothing indicates this is anything more than a snap,” Jourdane said.
Judge Suzanne Carlson disagreed.
Martinez-Perez and his wife had a long argument, which included two cigarette breaks and sending a child back to bed, she said. And he used two methods of strangulation, both 50 seconds or longer, she said.
He is next set for an arraignment hearing at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 2 in District Court in Durango.