He allegedly killed his wife. But should this Merced man be charged with murder?
A 51-year-old Merced man earlier this week pleaded not guilty to murder in connection with the slaying of his wife of 20 years, who was stabbed to death in a bedroom at the couple’s home.
Raul Anthony Loeza was charged with murder in connection with the death on May 18 of his 40-year-old wife, Lorenza Silva De Loeza, in the couple’s home in the 600 block of Easy Street in Merced.
“Mr. Loeza entered a not guilty plea to the charge of murder because he is not guilty of committing a murder,” said Chris Loethen, Loeza’s attorney. “This was a 20-plus-year marriage where an argument between a husband and wife erupted into a sudden quarrel with tragic results. This is exactly the reason the legislature created the crime of voluntary manslaughter in the heat of passion.”
A conviction for murder in California results in a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, while voluntary manslaughter typically carries a sentence of 11 years.
Loeza entered his plea Monday in Merced County Superior Court.
Authorities described the couple’s marriage as a rocky, abusive relationship that recently included divorce discussions.
They were arguing over relationship issues the afternoon of May 18. Loeza accused his wife of cheating on him after finding a conversation with another man on her phone. Witnesses told authorities they didn’t believe that conversation was romantic, according to reports.
The day she was killed, Lorenza apparently told one of her children she was afraid of Loeza, deputies said the reports.
Loeza “chugged” about two six-packs of beers while arguing with his wife before she took him to store to get more beer. She didn’t want him to drive since he’d been drinking, the reports state.
The fighting continued after they returned from the store and turned violent shortly before midnight. Two siblings - Raul’s 26-year-old daughter and the couple’s 15-year-old son - said they “burst” into the troubled couple’s bedroom after hearing an argument and saw Loeza on top of Lorenza, stabbing her with a knife, according to the reports.
The children told authorities they pulled Loeza off Lorenza and told him to get out of the home and called 911, according to reports. Three other children were also in the home during the incident.
Merced County sheriff’s deputies attempted life-saving measures but Lorenza died at the scene. An autopsy revealed she suffered several injuries to her hands and arms while trying to defend herself, a wound near her right shoulder and three stab wounds to the chest, one of which was fatal.
“Raul loves his wife, he loves his children, and no one involved ever expected this to happen, but it did,” Loethen said. “He is distraught, shocked, and he and I will fight vigorously the charge of murder on this case.”
Loeza is scheduled back in court on June 20. He remains in custody at the Merced County jail with bail set at $1 million.