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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Lyvette Crespo Manslaughter Case

      Daniel Crespo was born in a Brooklyn, New York public housing project in 1969. Lyvette, Crespo's  high school girlfriend, married him in 1986 shortly after graduation. That year they moved to the Los Angeles area and in 1987 had their first child, a baby girl.

     Daniel Crespo earned an associates degree in psychology/family counseling at East Los Angeles College. Two years later he was awarded a bachelor's degree in criminal justice/public administration from Cal State University. The couple's second child, Daniel Jr, was born in 1994.

     After working eight years as a criminal justice youth counselor, Crespo joined the Los Angeles County Probation Department. In 2001, he and his family resided in the Vinos la Campana condominium complex in Bell Gardens, a suburban community of 43,000 18 miles southeast of Los Angeles. That year he was elected to the city council.

     In Bell Gardens, the city counsel is part time and members take turns serving as mayor. In 2014 Daniel Crespo held the office of Bell Gardens mayor. Over the past five years Crespo worked in the probation department's adult supervision gang/narcotics unit. As a criminal justice practitioner and city office holder, Crespo was considered friendly and well-liked. He also had the reputation of being a devoted family man.

     At two-thirty in the afternoon of Tuesday September 30, 2014, paramedics were called to the Crespo dwelling. The emergency crew found Daniel Sr. in the second floor master bedroom with three bullets in his upper torso. He died en route to a nearby hospital. His 19-year-old son, Daniel Jr, was taken to a hospital where a doctor treated him as an outpatient for facial injuries sustained in a fight.

     Later that day, Los Angeles County deputies questioned Lyvette and her son at a sheriff's station. According to Lyvette, she and her husband had been arguing in the master bedroom. When their son tried to intervene on her behalf, he and his father got into a fight. She left the room and returned with the handgun she used to shoot her husband three times.

     Following police interrogations of the mother and son, the two went home. A spokesperson for the sheriff's office announced that investigators would present the results of their investigation of the Crespo shooting case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Personnel within that office would determine if there was sufficient evidence to charge Lyvette Crespo and/or her son with criminal homicide.
   
     Two days after the shooting, Eber Bayona, Lyvette Crespo's attorney, described her to the media as a devoted wife and mother who had been the victim of "a difficult and intolerable home life." Attorney Bayona said, "I think the evidence will corroborate that she has been a victim of domestic violence for many years."

     William Crespo, the shooting victim's brother, told reporters that the attorney was simply trying to make his brother look bad. "My brother is not a bad man," he said. William went on to say that the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office should prosecute Lyvette Crespo for second-degree murder. When asked by a reporter if it were true that Daniel Crespo was having an affair with a woman who was pregnant, William Crespo did not answer the question. He did say that his brother was considering leaving his wife.

     In December 2016, following an extensive criminal investigation that revealed that Daniel Crespo had for years physically abused his wife and his son, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman allowed Lyvette Crespo to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

     On January 20, 2017, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy sentenced Lyvette Crespo to 90 days in jail and five years probation. While the so-called battered wife syndrome is not recognized as an admissible homicide defense, it is relevant in terms of prosecutorial discretion and sentencing.

   

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