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Man sentenced to two life terms in wife's killing

Man sentenced to two life terms in wife's killing

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PHOENIX (AP) — A man was sentenced to two consecutive life terms Tuesday for murdering his wife, a crime for which he spent seven years on death row before his original conviction was overturned.

Daniel Willoughby, 62, was convicted for the second time in November.

Prosecutor David Rozema, chief deputy county attorney for Coconino County said the life terms, which refer to natural life, have the possibility of parole after 25 years. But Willoughby's terms run consecutively, which means the soonest he could be paroled would be in 50 years.

The Gilbert man spent about a half hour addressing the court before being sentenced Tuesday, tearfully professing his innocence and saying that his wife was taken from him, not by him.

The sentencing judge found factors that required the sentence, Rozema said. Among them were that Willoughby sought monetary gain from the killing — more than $1 million in life insurance taken out on his wife. Another was that the crime was was so heinous — he had bludgeoned her to death.

Willoughby was originally sentenced to death after being convicted in 1992 of murdering Trish Willoughby while the couple was vacationing in the Mexican resort community of Puerto Penasco.

He was granted a new trial in 1999 after a judge ruled that his original lawyer had been ineffective.

Willoughby's former transsexual lover, Yesenia Patino, was convicted in Mexico in Trish Willoughby's murder and is serving a 35-year prison term there.

She was a key prosecution witness in the case against Willoughby and was responsible for a bizarre moment in the second trial.

Patino testified in November that she killed Trish Willoughby in 1991 then contradicted herself by switching back to a former claim that Daniel Willoughby was the killer.

Prosecutors transferred Patino from Mexico to try Willoughby again, granting her immunity in the United States so she would testify.

During the trial, prosecutors said Willoughby planned to use his wife's life insurance to pay for his and Patino's lavish lifestyle.

Prosecutors didn't seek the death penalty in the second trial.

Daily Sun reporter Larry Hendricks contributed to this story.

— Arizona Daily Sun


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