A Clark County jury Tuesday spared the life of a 33-year-old man convicted of killing a woman and attacking her children with a machete in 2007.
The same jury that last week convicted Victor Cruz-Garcia of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a two-day penalty hearing.
The jury found mitigating circumstances in Cruz-Garcia’s childhood that led them to exclude the death penalty, including his abuse of alcohol at a young age and his witnessing violent atrocities as a child during El Salvador’s civil war.
Cruz-Garcia showed little emotion after the verdict as an interpreter told him the verdict in Spanish.
The jury had four choices on how to punish Cruz-Garcia for the slaying of Beatrice Alvarez, 46, including death, life without the possibility of parole, 20 years to life in prison, or 20 to 50 years in prison.
After the hearing, prosecutor David Stanton said he respected the jury’s verdict. Defense attorney Tim O’Brien said he was “relieved and grateful.”
Authorities said that weeks before the attack, Alvarez allowed Cruz-Garcia and his then-girlfriend, Maria Erlinda Ulloa, to move into her apartment near Bonanza Road and Eastern Avenue. Alvarez had met Ulloa at church. The couple recently had moved to the valley from Texas.
Several weeks later Cruz-Garcia fought with his girlfriend while drunk. During the fight Cruz-Garcia grabbed a machete, chased down Alvarez and struck her in the head with the blade.
Both of Alvarez’s children, her daughter, then 12, and son, then 27, were also injured. The son had tried to put himself between his mother and her attacker. Cruz-Garcia cut off the son’s arm and a finger, which were reattached.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.