Dad JOHNNY RIX has been convicted in the murder of his wife, the mother of their 3 children. The judge called it "one of the worst murders he has seen." And Daddy Dearest carried out the whole thing in front of his 4-year-old son, who was later able to "re-create" what happened for police. Not surprisingly, even two years later, the boy "continues to have memories no child should have" and shows "signs of aggression and acting out." Some of that is probably related to the fact that Daddy tried to jump off a roof with the child, and that police grabbed him at the last moment.
Well written article, in that we didn't seek out any neighborhood idiots swearing that Daddy was a "nice guy." Rather, we interviewed an intelligent DA who understands that except for the extreme brutality, this was a typical domestic violence murder committed by a very controlling man. In fact, it is pointed out that Dad showed the same behavior in an earlier relationship with a girlfriend.
This is useful information, as too much of the public still thinks that these crimes are committed by basically nice guys who "snap." They aren't.
Man gets 80 to life in wife's death
By Todd Cooper
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
A prosecutor wondered what went through the mind of the 4-year-old boy.
The boy watched as his dad beat his mom, then strangled her before slashing her throat in the bathroom of the family's rental home in June 2008 near 118th Street and Cryer Avenue.
He then watched as his dad took him to the roof of the one-story Blimpie's restaurant on Saddle Creek Road – and jumped off. Police grabbed the boy before Rix jumped.
Now 6, that little boy has memories no child should have, Deputy Douglas County Attorney Kim Pankonin said.
And Johnny Rix will have a long time to remember his actions in the brutal slaying of his 34-year-old wife, Sonia Espinoza-Lucero.
On Friday, Douglas County District Judge J. Michael Coffey sentenced Rix, 30, to 80 years to life in prison. The sentence means that Rix cannot be paroled unless the Pardons Board commutes his life sentence to a number of years. He faced between 21 years and life in prison.
Coffey said he couldn't imagine the terror that went through the mind of Espinoza-Lucero — and her children. The judge called it one of the worst murders he had seen.
Pankonin agreed. In her 16 years as a proseuctor, she said, she has never seen such a brutal crime scene. Rix nearly decapitated the woman, Pankonin said.
But in every other way, Pankonin said, the domestic violence was prototypical. And that's exactly the reason this case should serve as a wake-up call to women trapped in domestic violence situations.
A sweet woman, Sonia Espinoza-Lucero kept the couple's volatile relationship secret from her coworkers, friends, even family.
She worked hard and raised the couple’s three sons — including 1-year-old twins, Pankonin said. And she dealt with the neverending specter of her husband’s temper.
Pankonin said Rix was "insanely jealous" and controlling. He drove his wife to work, constantly called to check on her and hounded her at home. It was the same behavior Rix was accused of in the late 1990s.
In that case, Pankonin said, a former girlfriend in Grand Island described his abusive, controlling behavior. She escaped the relationship when her family helped her pack up her belongings while Rix was at work.
"This was not unusual conduct for the defendant," Pankonin said. "And it resulted in the senseless loss of a mom, sister and friend. It was a gruesome, horrible death she did not deserve."
Rix apologized for the "embarrassment" he caused his family and the pain he caused his wife’s family.
Coffey questioned what kind of impact this will have on Espinoza-Lucero’s children. The boys are now living with an uncle and aunt. Now 6, the oldest son has shown signs of agression and acting out.
When he met with police two years ago, he was able to re-create his father’s actions in the house that day. He described how his father yelled "you don’t love me," as he attacked his mother. He then watched as his dad carried his mom to the bathroom — telling him "Mommy’s going to take a bath."
"People have described her death as ‘horrific,’" Coffey said. "If you saw what has been done here, that might be mild. It was completely senseless. Extremely violent.
"I only hope the children can somehow put it aside."