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Jurors hear closing arguments in strangulation case

Prosecutors say husband premeditated murder; defense says it was ‘heat of passion’

Jurors began deliberating Tuesday afternoon in the first-degree murder case involving Silvino Martinez-Perez, who is suspected of killing his wife in April 2017 at the Lightner Creek Mobile Home Park.

The jury can find Martinez-Perez guilty of either first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter or criminal negligence resulting in homicide. Prosecutors on Tuesday asked jurors to convict him of first-degree murder, while defense lawyers said manslaughter better fits the circumstances of the crime.

Martinez-Perez

Martinez-Perez, 36, is also charged with one count of abuse of a corpse and three counts of child abuse. Sixth Judicial Court Judge Suzanne Carlson is presiding over the case.

During closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutor Robert Barlow argued that Martinez-Perez acted with deliberation and intent during the incident. He said Martinez-Perez murdered his wife, Crystal Martinez-Perez, 33, after a weeklong fight that started when she told him she wanted a divorce.

On April 16, 2017, Silvino went through his wife’s phone and found text messages, sexual in nature, to Floyd Martinez, who at the time was a deputy with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.

Silvino awoke her from a nap and started an argument about the texts. The fight lasted so long it consisted of two cigarette breaks and time to put their son, who had woken up during the argument, back to bed, Barlow said.

During the argument, Crystal told Silvino that her body wasn’t his anymore and walked toward a bedroom, Barlow said. Silvino then strangled her from behind for about two minutes. After a brief pause, he again strangled her for about 50 seconds while she was unconscious, he said.

Barlow argued that the incident wasn’t done in a “heat of passion,” as defense lawyers suggested. As part of his argument, Barlow sat in silence for the alleged duration of the struggle.

“That’s plenty of time for him to reflect on what he’s doing,” he said.

John Moran, Silvino’s public defender, argued that he was under extreme emotional distress after learning that he was about to lose his wife and kids. He argued his wife’s infidelity, combined with recent financial struggles, caused him to “freak out” and commit the act.

“He acted from a place of hurt and devastation,” Moran said. “He thought he was going to lose his family.”

After the incident, Silvino called the police and reported the crime himself. He cooperated fully with authorities and even told police incriminating information that they might have otherwise never discovered, including that he had sex with his wife’s body after he strangled her, Moran said.

He also said the couple’s three children, all younger than 10, were never in any danger despite the fact that they were in the house during the incident.

“The prosecution is reaching and they’re asking you to reach,” Moran told jurors. “Don’t reach. Treat him fairly.”

asemadeni@durangoherald.com

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