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Annandale man guilty in wife's murder

An Annandale man, who fled to Mexico after his wife was found stabbed to death behind their home in 2007, was convicted of second-degree murder Wednesday evening by a Fairfax County jury, and the jury on Thursday imposed a prison sentence of 30 years.

Matilde A. Cruz, 57, had separated from her husband, Jose Luis Cruz, 56, and moved out of their home in the 6500 block of Pinecrest Court. But police said their 18-year-old son found her stabbed to death in her car, which had crashed behind the family's house, on Dec. 20, 2007.

Photos at Jose Cruz's trial this week in Fairfax Circuit Court showed she had been stabbed repeatedly in the neck and upper chest area, probably by someone in the back seat, and evidence showed she had previously been assaulted by Cruz.

Police quickly obtained a murder warrant for Cruz, who had last been seen in bloody clothes walking away from his wife's car. Court testimony showed that he then transferred $42,000 to his own account and left for Mexico. He was arrested there in 2008, and extradited back to Fairfax in 2009.

At the close of the trial, Cruz surprised his own lawyers by insisting that he take the witness stand. He then testified that two Guatemalan men had tried to extort money from him, emphasized that threat by killing his wife, and that he wired money to Mexico as payment to them.

Prosecutors asked the jury to convict Cruz of first-degree murder, but they opted for second-degree murder, with a punishment range of five to 40 years.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  July 15, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , From the Courthouse , Homicide , Tom Jackman , Updates  
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