On 30 September 2014, Lyvette and Daniel Crespo were fighting. He’d been cheating – and not for the first time. He came home and beat her as he had many times before. This time, though, he also turned on their son. For Lyvette, it was the final straw.
Lyvette and Daniel Crespo were high-school sweethearts. Married in 1986, they appeared to be the perfect couple.
A year later, they had their daughter Crystal and, a few years on, son Daniel Jr.
With a young family to look after, Daniel put everything into building a career in local politics.
He worked his way up and eventually was elected Mayor of Bell Gardens, the area in southeast Los Angeles that the family called home.
All the while, Lyvette stood by his side, playing the role of the adoring wife and supporting him every step of the way.
But, beneath its pristine public persona, the family had a murky secret. Crespo was a Jekyll-and-Hyde character.
To the local community and fellow politicians, he was a caring, dedicated public servant.
At home, beyond the reach of the news cameras, he was a monster.
For decades, Lyvette was forced to endure endless abuse at his hands.
Once, the couple were driving home from church when Crespo smashed Lyvette in the side of the face for no reason.
On another occasion, Lyvette took their young daughter to a friend’s birthday party…
When they returned home, Crespo asked if they had bought the friend a gift.
‘Just a little radio,’ Lyvette said.
She tried to explain they’d used Crystal’s money to buy it from the 99 Cent Store, but it was too late. Crespo had already seen red.
He punched Lyvette so hard in the face, it broke her nose. Blood spattered everywhere – even reaching the ceiling.
But, as far as Crespo was concerned, there was nothing wrong with domestic violence.
And, as well as making his wife live in fear of violence, he was also extremely controlling.
If Lyvette dared simply glance at another man – even just a waiter in a restaurant – he’d fly off the handle.
She was banned from leaving the house without advance permission from him, and her social life was non-existent.
‘I don’t have any friends and I’m not allowed to go out, unless it’s with him,’ she admitted.
But, while Crespo controlled his wife’s every move, he didn’t impose the same limits on himself.
He was well known at his workplace for sleeping with other women – in fact, he liked to boast of it.
He didn’t even try to hide it from Lyvette.
To rub her face in it, he once sent her a recording of him bragging to colleagues about his infidelity.
To aid his adulterous lifestyle, he rented a separate house on the outskirts of town.
Although he had handfuls of mistresses, one of them became more serious.
Crespo fell in love with the 35-year-old and even exchanged rings in a faux wedding ceremony in Las Vegas.
But Lyvette found the password for Crespo’s phone and soon learned the details of the affair.
‘Please let this end, it is torture for me,’ she begged her husband.
But he refused, replying, ‘Let it run its course.’
It was following this that Lyvette reached the end of her tether.
‘Death would be better than the hell you’re putting me through,’ she told Crespo, begging for a divorce.
A few weeks later, Crespo came home with sunburn. He’d told Lyvette he was at work all day when, in fact, he’d taken it off to treat his girlfriend to a day out for her birthday.
It didn’t take long for Lyvette to put two and two together – and when she did, she was livid.
A row broke out, with Crespo texting her, With the rage I have woman!!! You shouldn’t be pushing my buttons!!!
When Crespo got home later that afternoon, he was still fuming.
He found Lyvette cowering in a room upstairs and locked the door behind him.
She begged him not to hit her, but he ignored her pleas.
He punched her in the back and face as she cried out.
The noise alerted Daniel Jr, 19, who banged on the door and shouted for his father to stop hitting his mother.
Daniel Jr tried to goad his dad from the room to protect Lyvette.
Crespo punched his son in the face and sent him falling backwards down the stairs.
Lyvette watched in horror.
She could live with her husband beating her, but she couldn’t watch as he turned that aggression on their son.
Before she knew it, she was standing in front of her husband with a 9mm pistol in her hands.
‘No more! No more!’ she cried as she fired three bullets straight at Crespo. He slumped to the ground and blood pooled around his body.
Paramedics were called, but Daniel Crespo, 46, later died from his injuries in hospital.
When she was told of his death, Lyvette broke down in tears.
‘I just wanted him to stop,’ she said.
Lyvette, 45, was charged with voluntary manslaughter. When a jury heard evidence of the 28 years of torment she’d endured, they agreed she acted to defend herself and her son.
Lyvette could have faced up to 21 years behind bars but, in return for pleading guilty, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years probation.
The abuse Lyvette Crespo suffered helped secure her the plea deal and avoided her having to face a trial.
And the evidence she and Daniel Jnr gave in court ensured Daniel Crespo was finally exposed to the world as the monster he was.
As Lyvette left the court to begin her sentence, she wept.
She wouldn’t see her children for three months, but at least they were all safe from harm.
It was over.