Long Beach man sentenced to 40 years for killing estranged wife, second woman

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A Long Beach man who pleaded guilty to murdering his estranged wife in Covina and another woman who was shot two months earlier in Azusa was sentenced Wednesday, March 3 to 40 years to life in state prison.

Miguel Angel Prieto, 46, pleaded guilty Feb. 24 to one count each of first-degree murder and second-degree murder, along with two counts of attempted murder.

Prieto’s estranged wife, Maria Perez, 42, was slain April 11, 2018, in an apartment in the 1300 block of West San Bernardino Road in Covina. The other victim, Rocio Sandoval, 38, was shot Feb. 9, 2018, while inside a vehicle in the 1500 block of West McKinley Avenue in Azusa.

Prieto — who mistook a man to be his estranged wife’s boyfriend — approached the man, who was sitting in a car with Sandoval, spoke to them and later shot them, prosecutors said. Sandoval died two days later from a gunshot wound to the head, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

Prieto was also involved in a third shooting on April 7, 2018, in which he visited Perez’s uncle’s restaurant in Long Beach and shot at a woman, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Prieto — who was on probation in a 2015 assault with a deadly weapon case — was arrested by Covina police a few hours after his ex-wife’s killing. He was found with a revolver inside his distinctive black work van in the parking lot of a Del Taco restaurant in Long Beach and has remained behind bars since then without bail.

Perez’s boyfriend — who had been planning a trip with her to Las Vegas for her birthday — said he just “felt evil in his eyes” when Prieto looked at him but said he still underestimated him.

“Miguel Prieto planned everything … He wanted to kill,” the victim’s boyfriend said.

The victim’s father said through a Spanish interpreter that “nothing is going to return my daughter” and that he wanted the “most amount of justice to be done for my daughter.”

In a statement last week, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon called Prieto’s crimes “senseless and brazen.”

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