MIAMI, April 23 (UPI) -- A man faces life in a Florida prison after a jury found him guilty of killing his wife of four days in 2002 to get $1 million in life insurance.
Jurors deliberated for only three hours Tuesday before finding Michel Escoto, 42, guilty of first-degree murder. Escoto is to be sentenced May 7 to the penalty set by Florida law.
Wendy Trapaga, 21, was beaten with a tire iron at a warehouse. Escoto told police at the time that his new wife had driven away in a rage after they had an argument.
Yolanda Cerrillo, who was Escoto's girlfriend at the time, testified under a grant of immunity that she helped him plan the killing. She said their original plan was to drug Trapaga with Percocet and drown her but two attempts failed to work.
Cerrillo also said she drove Escoto to the spot where he dropped the tire iron in Biscayne Bay.
Myriam Benitez, Trapaga's mother, wore a gold pendant with her daughter's picture during the trial.
“The truth triumphed over over the lies,” she said after the verdict. “God accompanied us throughout this whole process. May my daughter rest in peace.”
Escoto was arrested in 2005 after he sued to get the life insurance payout. His trial was delayed by legal disputes over his wish to represent himself.