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Plea agreement falls apart in councilman’s death case

LOS ANGELES — Efforts to reach a plea deal with no jail time have fallen apart for the wife of slain Bell Gardens City Councilman Daniel Crespo Sr., who claims she shot and killed him in self-defense after enduring years of abuse at his hands, her attorneys said Oct. 17.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy asked whether a plea deal had been struck when the parties were discussing potential trial dates for Lyvette Crespo, 45.

Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said, “We tried to, your honor.”

Defense attorney Eber Bayona replied, “We thought we had a deal,” but told Kennedy the offer apparently wasn’t approved by supervisors in the District Attorney’s Office.

“I understand the family had a strong voice in the decision-making,” Bayona said.

He said he believed the parties are now at an impasse.

A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Nov. 30, with a tentative trial date of Jan. 5.

Outside the courtroom, co-defense counsel Roger Lowenstein said 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 The first, involving a plea of involuntary manslaughter, was withdrawn by prosecutors who then sought a voluntary manslaughter plea.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.

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

However, given the risk of conviction, a possible 21-year sentence and a mandatory 10-year term for using a firearm, Lowenstein said it made sense for his client to take the deal and “start healing.”

Daniel Crespo’s brother William was informed of the potential plea deal and spoke out against it to ABC7.

“That’s wrong. You get more for killing a dog,” William Crespo told a Channel 7 reporter last week.

An attorney representing the mayor’s brother and mother said Lyvette Crespo had other options.

“Lyvette had time to walk into the bedroom, get the 9 mm gun, load it, take the safety off and fire three shots down a stairwell and into my client’s chest,” James Devitt told the station.

Lowenstein accused the District Attorney’s Office of “unprofessionalism” and “playing with people’s lives” in withdrawing the deal.

He also dismissed the idea that higher-ups were responsible.

“If Beth Silverman wanted this deal, she would go in and fight for it,” Lowenstein said.

Silverman could not immediately be reached for comment and a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office said they do not comment on plea negotiations conducted outside of open court.

Crespo was indicted by a grand jury on a voluntary manslaughter charge in the Sept. 30, 2014, shooting death of her husband.

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.”