A Durango man who strangled his wife was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility for parole after being convicted of first-degree murder.
Silvino Martinez-Perez appeared Tuesday in La Plata County Court with his shoulders slumped, head hung and eyes downcast. Colorado law mandates life in prison without the possibility of parole for anyone convicted of first-degree murder.
A 12-person jury found Martinez-Perez guilty in August 2018 of first-degree murder, abusing a corpse and three counts of child abuse. In a 911 call made about 12:01 a.m. April 17, 2017, Martinez-Perez admitted to strangling Crystal Martinez-Perez at the Lightner Creek Mobile Home Park, 207 Lightner Creek Road (County Road 207), after she told him she wanted a divorce and that her body wasn’t his anymore.
Deputy District Attorney Sean Murray told District Court Judge Suzanne Carlson that the victim “lived her life for her children.” The children were each younger than 10 at the time of her death.
Martinez-Perez’s public defender Johnathan Jourdane said his client’s sentence is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment – an Eighth Amendment argument that Carlson rejected. Jourdane did not call witnesses or make any comments on his client’s behalf in regard to sentencing, other than to say the defendant plans to appeal his conviction.
‘I need justice’The public defender’s office in Durango sought the services of two licensed forensic psychologists post-conviction to determine if Martinez-Perez has a psychological or developmental disorder that keeps him from cooperating with his attorneys, understanding the trial or appreciating the consequences of his first-degree murder conviction.
Martinez-Perez told evaluators he saw images of the devil or demons participating in the murder and necrophilia of his wife in the discolored concrete of his jail cell floors.
Although he may have exhibited “odd” behavior last year in an interview with Kimberly Muller, forensic psychologist at Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, Martinez-Perez was “logical and coherent” throughout the 2½-hour interview, Muller said by phone last week at a competency hearing.
Judge Carlson found Martinez-Perez competent to face sentencing.
Martinez-Perez tried to fire Jourdane this spring in open court after the public defender asked Judge Carlson to delay sentencing for a second evaluation of his competency. Martinez-Perez told evaluators he was frustrated with his counsel and felt like public defenders were working against him.
“I need justice and I’m here for that,” Martinez-Perez told Judge Carlson in May without consulting his pubic defenders. “(Waiting means) more time that those kids have to wait for justice for the death of their mother.”