SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) -- A Santa Rosa man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for the domestic violence murder of his girlfriend in 2017, according to the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office.
Nery Estrada-Margos, 40, pleaded no contest in Sonoma County Superior Court in June to first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury and domestic assault of Veronica Cabrera Ramirez, 42, prosecutors said.
On July 31, 2017, Estrada-Margos struck Cabrera, his girlfriend of eight months, twice in the face with his fist causing bruising. Cabrera did not initially contact police about the assault, but she did two days later after friends convinced her to report it, prosecutors said. Estrada-Margos was arrested and a protective order was issued.
On Aug. 18, Estrada-Margos struck Cabrera on the head with a dumbbell as she prepared to go to work. He drove Cabrera's car to the Santa Rosa police station, reported the incident and told police he assaulted Cabrera because he believed she was cheating on him, according to the district attorney's office.
Police went to Cabrera's residence on Russell Avenue and found her dead. An autopsy found blunt force head trauma to Cabrera's head and the cause of death was determined to be homicidal asphyxia due to smothering or strangulation, prosecutors said.
Estrada-Margos had been flagged by Immigration and Customs Enforcement just two weeks before he allegedly beat his girlfriend Veronica Cabrera Ramirez to death.
Just weeks earlier, the suspect was arrested for beating Cabrera Ramirez. But Estrada-Margos, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, was released after making bail.
Sonoma County deputies claim they told the feds he was about to be let of jail, but ICE officials never picked him up. Federal officials counter that they did not have time to send an agent to take the suspect into custody.
An investigation by police determined Estrada-Margos started dating Cabrera shortly after moving in as her roommate in October 2016. Police said he took control of Cabrera's Facebook account, tracked her phone and accused her of cheating on him, according to the district attorney's office.
Judge Bradford DeMeo said the murder was "brutal, heinous and callous," and he sentenced Estrada-Margos to nine years plus 25 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.
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