Yara Perez Guilty

Mother convicted of murdering her daughter

EL PASO - An El Paso jury has convicted 30 year-old Yara Perez of Capital Murder and Injury to a Child in the death of her three-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, in 2007.

Jurors deliberated approximately three and a half hours before reaching the verdict.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, so Perez faces an automatic sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole for the Capital Murder conviction.  She was immediately taken into custody. 

Her ex-boyfriend, Francisco Castañeda, was previously convicted in the case, and is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.

Castañeda's sister, Abigail, provided critical testimony in the case.  She alerted police to the girl's death.  

El Paso County Medical Examiner Juan Contin testified that Jacqueline's body showed at least 70 points of impact.

Perez's attorney, Joe Spencer, maintained that she suffered from Battered Woman's Syndrome, and did not take part in killing Jacqueline, whose body was found in a plastic bin in the trunk of her car.  

Perez did not testify in her own defense.  Spencer told the court Castañeda regularly beat her.  Another ex-girlfriend was called to testify that she, too, received regular beatings from him, but jurors were not allowed to hear her testimony.

A court-appointed psychiatrist testified that Perez's actions were consistent with those of someone suffering from Battered Woman's Syndrome.

A family violence expert testifying for the prosecution told jurors that most women who attempt to flee an abusive relationship are protective of their children. 

A punishment phase of the trial will begin Monday morning.  Even though Perez faces an automatic life sentence on the Capital Murder conviction, she still must be sentenced for the Injury to a Child count.  She faces up to 99 years in prison on that conviction.

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