Bell Gardens mayor dragged wife by hair, autopsy report says

Coroner's report on slain Bell Gardens mayor details domestic violence allegations

An autopsy report on Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo provided new details Friday about allegations that he abused his wife, who shot him three times in the chest at close range.

The release of the autopsy comes as prosecutors are reviewing an investigation by L.A. County sheriff's homicide detectives into the Sept. 30 shooting.

Lyvette Crespo admitted shooting her husband, telling authorities that she was a battered wife and that the killing was in self-defense while he attacked her son at their home.

In the hours after the shooting, Crespo’s adult daughter, Crystal, told investigators that the mayor was “verbally and physically abusive to her mother over 20 years,” the coroner's report said. That abuse, she said, had become more physical in the last two years as her parents argued over his infidelity.

“The decedent and his wife were not sleeping in the same bedroom, and he was known to drag her by the hair to force her to do so,” the report said.

Crespo's daughter said the abuse did not leave her mother with serious injuries and that it had never been reported, the document said.

“The decedent had threatened to kill her and the children if she attempted to report the abuse,” the coroner's investigator's notes added. The report also made note of Crespo’s relationship with another woman.

“The decedent's mistress had reportedly begun making annoying phone calls to the decedent's wife at the residence recently,” the coroner’s document said.

Lyvette Crespo's attorney, Eber Bayona, has insisted his client was the victim of violent outbursts by her husband.

Although the allegations of domestic violence and cheating were already public, the report offers the first official details about what the mayor’s family told authorities soon after the shooting.

The mayor’s brother disputed the account provided by Crystal Crespo to authorities, saying Lyvette should be held accountable for the shooting.

“While my brother is six feet under, his killer is out shopping for Christmas gifts with his money,” William Crespo said.

William Crespo’s attorney, James Devitt, said the report’s account of the mayor dragging his wife by the hair is “all very convenient but has many holes in it.... He was sleeping upstairs and she was sleeping downstairs.” Devitt said dragging anyone upstairs would leave noticeable injuries.

Lyvette fired a 9-millimeter pistol at her husband in their home’s master bedroom, striking him three times in the right breast, the coroner's report said. One of the bullets went through much of Crespo’s body before lodging in his right buttock, according to report. Crespo also had a bruise on the back of his right hand.

In an anguished 911 call after the shooting, the couple’s son, Daniel Jr., told a police dispatcher: “He hurt me. He hurt me. He's on the floor dying. He hurt me.”

His voice breaking, he said things at his home weren't as they appeared: “Nobody ever knew.” 

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


8:22 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from William Crespo's attorney.

This post was originally published at 2:06 p.m.