Wife of Slain Bell Gardens Mayors Pleads Guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter

November 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The wife of slain Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo pleaded guilty Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter for shooting him three times in their home just over two years ago.

Lyvette Crespo, 45, is facing three months in county jail, 500 hours of community service and five years formal probation under a disposition reached with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, according to Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman.

Crespo is set to be formally sentenced Jan. 5 in connection with the Sept. 30, 2014, shooting death of her husband, Daniel Crespo Sr.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy noted that she will review a probation report once it is completed to determine if she will go along with the disposition. If not, Crespo would have the option of withdrawing her plea, the judge said.

Crespo with wife son Searing In

Former Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo, right, with his son, pictured center, and his wife Lyvette Crespo, left, during his swearing in ceremony in 2013. (EGP News photo archive)

One of the woman’s attorneys told the judge that she wanted to plead no contest, but the prosecutor insisted on a guilty plea and Crespo eventually acquiesced after speaking with her lawyers.

“She should plead guilty to what she did,” Silverman said outside court. “The factual basis is that she shot him three times in the chest.”

Outside court, Crespo’s brother, William, objected to the plea agreement, which he said he heard about for the first time during the hearing.

“I’m hurt. I’m confused, all kinds of emotions are going on right now,” he told reporters. “I’m so shocked. I still can’t believe that she’s gonna get away with this … She should pay for what she did. She killed my brother.”

He said he believes his sister-in-law’s sentence “should be a long time.”

Crespo’s attorneys have claimed that she shot and killed her husband in self-defense after enduring years of abuse at his hands.

At a hearing last month, defense lawyer Eber Bayona said he thought the two sides had reached a deal, but told the judge that the offer apparently was not approved by supervisors in the District Attorney’s Office.

Another of her attorneys, Roger Lowenstein, told reporters last month that two deals had been on the table. The first, involving a plea of involuntary manslaughter, was withdrawn by prosecutors who then sought a voluntary manslaughter plea. Both deals were for probation with no jail time,
he said.

“Lyvette Crespo is innocent. This is a self-defense case,” Lowenstein said, alleging her husband “tortured [her] for 28 years.”

He said then that it made sense for Crespo to take the deal and “start healing” given the risk of a possible 21-year sentence and a mandatory 10-year term for using a firearm if she had gone to trial and been convicted.

Crespo was indicted in April 2015 on the voluntary manslaughter charge. Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators have said the mayor and his wife were arguing when their then-19-year-old son, Daniel Crespo Jr., intervened, leading to a struggle between father and son.

Lyvette Crespo claims she was protecting the couple’s son when she grabbed a handgun and shot her husband, who had allegedly punched the young man in the face.

Bayona contends that Daniel Crespo “was a man who abused not only his wife but other women” and mentally and physically abused his children.

William Crespo has denied allegations that his brother was abusive, but said the mayor had a series of extramarital affairs that angered his wife.

A civil lawsuit filed Oct. 20, 2014, by Daniel Crespo’s mother alleges her daughter-in-law picked a fight with him knowing that their son would intervene, then opened a safe, grabbed a gun and killed her husband “with malice and in cold blood.”

Years Before Slain Mayor’s Death, Bloggers Were Telling Tales

September 24, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

In June 2007, an anonymous blogger started a thread on the Bell Gardens Topix board titled “Daniel Crespo.” What began as an opportunity for the author to vent about his mistrust of the city official, quickly turned into allegations of adultery and abuse, charges that years later would grip local and national headlines in the wake of the mayor’s untimely and violent death.

 

Shot Heard Around The World

It’s been nearly a year since the small working class city of Bell Gardens was invaded by swarms of news trucks and reporters covering the shooting death of the city’s mayor at the hands of the woman he called his “high school sweetheart.”

News of the shocking shooting death of a beloved city official would quickly give way to a story alleging scandal, infidelity and spousal abuse by Mayor Daniel Crespo.

Initial reports out of the city on the afternoon of Sept. 30, 2014, said the mayor was shot at his home. But a shocking detail soon emerged — the person who pulled the trigger was none other than the mayor’s wife, Lyvette Crespo.

According to police, Lyvette admitted to shooting her husband in self-defense: The couple’s teen-aged son Daniel told police his mother was defending him against his father who had hurt him. Later, it was revealed Lyvette alleged she had suffered years of abuse at the hands of Crespo.

For some, the allegations seemed to come out of left field. The image of Crespo as a wife beater did not match their view of him as a man dedicated to helping the city’s working class, mostly immigrant residents. They saw him as a noble man dedicated to ensuring Bell Gardens thrived and did not end up like other southeast cities riddled with corruption.

Others, however, were not surprised that the man who seemed dedicated to keeping city hall transparent, may have actually kept his biggest secrets at home.

 

Foreshadow of Tales to Come

Back in 2007, bloggers angrily blamed Crespo for the city’s volatile political climate, which at the time included threats of recalls and voter fraud. Some accused then Councilman Crespo of personal indiscretions.

“Daniel Crespo is a womanizer,” wrote Concerned Resident. “I know there was talk about him having an affair… I hear he is very friendly with his commissioners.”

Another blogger brought up a sexual harassment lawsuit that accused Crespo of harassing a city employee. The city was later forced to settle the suit brought by a former employee for $70,000.

“He always denies it, but the truth is it happened,” wrote Refreshed Memory. 

The blogger acknowledged Crespo’s longstanding claim that the whole incident was a misunderstanding and political set up.

“I feel sorry for his wife,” another blogger posted. 

Within months, the thread had a dozen posts. Many of the comments attacked Crespo and other political figures in the city.

That same year, a blogger referenced an incident where Crespo was said to have exhibited a gun during a homeowners association meeting at the complex where he lived.

“This is yet more proof on how he abuses his power to threaten people and feels superior,” wrote Case 990831. 

His fans came to his support on the blog, calling him a “good church-going” man.

“You guys talk nonsense about him and his family,” wrote I support Crespo. “I heard he is working undercover to clean up city hall.”

Years later, the blog comments seemed to foreshadow what was to come — accusations mirrored in testimony in the Grand Jury indictment of Lynette on a charge of voluntary manslaughter for the death of her husband.

She pleaded not guilty and is currently out on bail.

(Screenshots of Topix website)

(Screenshots of Topix website)

In 2007, one blogger wrote he had witnessed Crespo and his wife arguing in front of their children outside St. Gertrude’s Church. According to media reports, Crespo’s daughter Crystal told the Grand Jury her father once punched her mother on their way home from church.

Another blogger also claimed to have witnessed evidence of Crespo’s abuse of his wife: “I have seen marks on her arms,” wrote Say No to Abuse. “He abuses his power and his wife too.” 

Lyvette’s lawyer has released photos of injuries his client years earlier allegedly sustained at the hands of her husband. The images show Lyvette with a black eye and cuts around her lips.

Then, for nearly three years, the blog went cold, no comments or posts or accusations until 2010 when BGFeatherwood wrote: “Daniel Crespo is human and yet is very compassionate and caring not greedy and corrupt like the rest of the city council …Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about.” 

(Screenshots of Topix website)

(Screenshots of Topix website)

Four years later, bloggers started to post again: Crespo had been killed.

 “RIP Daniel Crespo … guess a lot of what [was] said on here might have been true … one thing for sure though … you died by your own gun,” wrote Life Long BG Resident on Sept. 30, the day of the shooting.

Crespo, a parole officer licensed to carry a handgun, was shot with his own weapon.

 “You did all you could to help Bell Gardens and your family,” wrote Legal Resident the next day. “Good bless your wife and kids as they try to live without you. It will be hard for all.”

“He got what he deserved,” wrote a less sympathetic blogger.

 

Looking Ahead

In the weeks following the shooting, media outlets across the country dissected the mayor’s life, interviewing family, friends, neighbors, acquaintance and fellow elected officials.

Many people said “they never knew” about the “darker side” of the mayor’s private life. City officials and staff noted his wife and children rarely accompanied him to city events. During funeral services, many spoke of mended relationships and his happiness to after years of being passed over, finally being voted in as mayor by his council colleagues: a title he will now hold in perpetuity.

Things have quieted down in Bell Gardens in the ensuing months. The city has even cancelled the city council election that was supposed to take place in November since no one but the two sitting longtime councilmembers in those seats filed to run.

But that could change early next year as national attention is again focused on the small southeast city during Lyvette’s murder trial, scheduled to begin Jan. 4. A separate wrongful death civil lawsuit filed against Lyvette by Crespo’s mother, is also awaiting trial.

A crime show is filming an expose on the sordid story detailed in 1,500 plus pages of Grand Jury testimony, which includes statements from responding officers, Crespo’s two children, the mayor’s alleged girlfriends and others.

On the day of the killing, the couple got into a heated argument over the mayor’s alleged affairs, exchanging threatening and profanity laced text messages in the hours before the fatal confrontation at the couple’s home.

If convicted, Lyvette could face 21 years in state prison.

“[Crespo] was a womanizer who abused his power,” reads the last post on the blog.

“He paid the ultimate price.”

 

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