GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A Mexican national who was removed from the U.S. on two occasions will be spending the rest of his life in a Michigan prison for killing his estranged girlfriend in an alcohol-fueled fit of rage.
Raul Perez, 44, was sentenced Monday, Sept. 25 to mandatory life in prison for the Oct. 2016 murder at a Wyoming apartment building.
The body of 31-year-old Karla Guadalupe Magana, a mother of five, was found in a bathroom of an apartment on 44th Street east of Burlingame Avenue SW.
A Kent County jury last month found Perez guilty of first-degree murder in the woman’s Oct. 26, 2016 death.
“It took five minutes for Mr. Perez to strangle the victim to death,’’ Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Quist said. “The court has no discretion in this matter and has no problem imposing the following sentence, which is life in prison and without the possibility of parole.’’
Defense attorney Norman Miller said his client plans to appeal the jury verdict.
“It was our contention all along that Mr. Perez did not intend to kill his girlfriend,’’ Miller said. “This was a crime of passion; it was an argument that got out of hand. He was intoxicated but again, this was something he did not intend to do.’’
Perez, through an interpreter, apologized to the victim’s family and asked for forgiveness.
Wyoming police went to the apartment on a welfare check after the suspect’s daughter called to report her father admitted to the slaying.
Perez was found asleep. He confessed to strangling Magana, Wyoming officer Bob Robinson wrote in a probable cause affidavit.
Five days before the murder, Perez was stopped for suspicion of drunk driving after officers saw him driving erratically on Godfrey Avenue near Lee Street SW. A blood alcohol test showed he was above the legal limit for driving. Perez was booked into the Kent County Jail on the drunk driving charge and released Oct. 22.
At the time of his release, jail officials were unaware that he was in the country illegally. Perez has been deported from the U.S. twice.
His first deportation order came after he was convicted on a marijuana charge in Texas and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. In Aug. 2005, less than two weeks after he was deported, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Perez near the southern Texas town of Falfurrias. He was charged with being in the U.S. after a previous deportation.
A federal judge in Texas sentenced him in Jan. 2006 to four months in prison. When he was arrested by Wyoming police, Perez had a driver’s license from Mexico.
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