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Wife of Slain Bell Gardens Mayor Pleads Not Guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter

Lyvette Crespo is charged in the Sept. 30 shooting death of her husband at their home

The wife of a Southern California mayor who was shot and killed in his home was charged Thursday with voluntary manslaughter.

Lyvette Crespo, 43, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment after the grand jury indictment was unsealed Thursday morning in Los Angeles Superior Court. Bond was set at $150,000 and Crespo was immediately taken into custody.

She is scheduled to return to court May 29 for a pretrial hearing. If convicted, she faces up to 21 years in state prison.

Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo, 45, was shot by his wife Sept. 30 in their home in the community southeast of downtown Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Deputies said Crespo and his wife were arguing, and their 19-year-old son intervened, leading to a struggle between the mayor and his son that ended when Lyvette Crespo opened fire.

The couple's son called 911 to report the shooting. He can be heard telling the dispatcher that his mother was "defending herself."

Daniel Crespo Jr. and Lyvette Crespo were questioned for several hours after the shooting, then released that night. She admitted she shot her husband but that it was in self-defense during a fight. Her attorney has contended that she was a longtime victim of domestic violence and shot Daniel Crespo in defense of herself and her son.

A 9 mm handgun and three expended cartridges were recovered at the crime scene.

Eber Bayona, Lyvette Crespo's attorney, maintains she was a battered spouse who was defending herself and her son.

"I am confident that when all the evidence is presented ... she will be acquitted," he said.

Daniel Crespo's brother denied the abuse claims and has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit. The lawsuit seeking punitive damages portrayed Lyvette Crespo as a "coldblooded killer" who threatened many times to kill her husband.

Patrick Healy contributed to this report.

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