City News Service

Man Who Killed Police Officer Wife Sentenced to 48 Years to Life

A Murrieta man who killed his police officer wife and set their house ablaze to cover up the crime was sentenced Friday to 48 years to life in prison.

Freddy Perez Rodas, 29, was convicted on Oct. 7 of second-degree murder for the July 23, 2014, slaying of 25-year-old Laura Perez, an Escondido police officer and mother of his now 5-year-old daughter.

Along with the murder count, jurors found Rodas guilty of arson with sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Monterosso imposed the sentence required by law, referring to the defendant as "callous and cold," showing no remorse for his actions.

Rodas will not be eligible for parole until he's served at least 40 years behind bars.

Murrieta police investigators allege the defendant shot his wife in the chest, shoulder and back during a domestic dispute in their two-story residence in the 24500 block of Grand Oaks Court.

During trial testimony, it was revealed that the marriage was on the rocks, and that Rodas was convinced his wife had been unfaithful. He claimed that during an argument regarding who should have custody of their child, Suzeth, in the event of a divorce, Perez pulled a pistol from her handbag,
prompting the defendant to grab one of his own and open fire from a distance.

The physical evidence, however, did not support his story, with an autopsy showing that the victim had been shot at close range.

Rodas took his slain wife's body to a Moreno Valley storage locker, then returned to the house and set fire to it.

Murrieta Fire Department crews arrived minutes later and quickly extinguished the flames, immediately identifying the cause of the blaze as arson, according to police Lt. Tony Conrad.

He said Rodas, who called to report the fire, had also reported his wife missing, indicating she might still be in the house. The story raised suspicions, and Rodas was detained.

Under questioning by detectives, the defendant admitted killing Perez and revealed where her body was located.

Rodas testified in his own defense, denigrating his dead wife in open court. Monterosso today characterized Rodas' testimony as "arrogant" and a further reflection of his guilt.

Escondido police Capt. Michael Loarie spoke during the sentencing hearing, stating his confidence that, had Perez lived, she was "destined for greatness" in law enforcement. She had been on the police force for close to two years.

Suzeth, who was not harmed during the shooting and subsequent fire, is now in the care of her maternal grandmother.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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