Crime & Justice

Wife's lawyer compares slain Bell Gardens mayor to abuse suspects Rice, Peterson

The location where Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo was shot on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014.
The location where Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo was shot on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC
The location where Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo was shot on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014.
Lyvette Crespo's attorney Eber Bayona holds a Crespo family photo on October 3, 2014.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC
The location where Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo was shot on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014.
Lyvette Crespo's attorney Eber Bayona on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC


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The wife of slain Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo was a victim of domestic abuse for many years, according to her lawyer, who compared Crespo to other high-profile figures accused recently of domestic violence in a press conference Thursday morning.

Lyvette Crespo was detained in connection with the shooting death of her husband after what reportedly began as a domestic dispute. The altercation reportedly involved the couple’s 19-year old son, and at one point Lyvette allegedly produced a firearm and shot her husband. She was released after hours of questioning.

"Looks at times may be deceiving. In this case, there may be an opportunity to learn about the difficult and intolerable home life for this family. See, it seems that today we cannot turn a channel in the television without hearing a story about a celebrity or a high-powered individual involved in domestic violence. There was Ray Rice, Adrian [Peterson] and now Daniel Crespo," said Crespo's attorney Eber Bayona.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was cut from the team after video emerged that appeared to show him striking his then-fiancee and knocking her unconscious. Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges in Texas for allegedly using a tree branch to beat his 4-year-old son.

Bayona offered few other details about the alleged history of domestic violence in the Crespo family, but he insisted that his client was also a victim. He said the evidence would corroborate that his client had been a victim for many years.

"What happened [on Tuesday] in the Crespo family home is indeed a tragedy, and I hope that people understand that everyone in this situation is a victim," said Bayona, speaking at a televised press conference in front of the Bell Gardens Police Department.

Bayona said he will be asking to meet with law enforcement to provide evidence, statements and photographs in the case.

Another attorney, Claudia Osuna, represents the children, Daniel Crespo Jr. and Crystal Crespo. She said they stand behind their mother. Osuna told reporters the son was physically abused inside the home.

“Things were not as they seemed,” she said. “It was a very difficult life at home that they had.” 

The attorneys requested privacy for the family as they prepared for a burial and dealt with the loss of a loved one.

The slain mayor’s brother William Crespo said he hasn’t talked to the family since the shooting Tuesday. 

“The kids don’t want to talk to me right now because they want to do things that I don’t want,” he said. “All I want is justice for what happened to my brother. She didn’t have to kill my brother. She could’ve just shot him once, but not multiple times.”

William Crespo said the attorneys don’t know his brother like he does. Friends of the mayor who attended the news conference questioned the wife’s story.

Jannette Morales, 42, a former city education commissioner, said she’s known the family for more than 10 years. She met the slain mayor during his political election campaign for city council. Morales said Crespo would take his wife to the gun shooting range when he practiced so that she could, too.

“I often accompanied Councilman Crespo,” she said. “I’d go to his house, and I’d see a happy couple. How come she didn't file a domestic violence report? Why didn't she speak to someone?"

Morales said Crespo and his wife would get into yelling matches over the phone or argue at home when she would visit. Sometimes they would call each other bad names over the phone, she said. But Morales doesn’t believe there was a long history of domestic violence between the two. 

Friends of Daniel Crespo were planning a vigil for Friday at 6 p.m. at Bell Gardens City Hall.

This story has been updated.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said Lyvette Crespo was arrested, but she was questioned and released. KPCC regrets the error.