Clinton neighbor gets 25 to life

December 2, 2008 3:23:21 PM PST
A disbarred lawyer was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in prison for shooting and killing his wife as they drove to their suburban home just down the street from Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Carlos Perez-Olivo, 60, listened impassively as Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli imposed the maximum sentence and said, "You are a master of deceit who contrived a diabolical plan to murder your wife for your own financial gain."

Perez-Olivo, who was convicted two months ago of second-degree murder and weapon possession in the death of his wife, Peggy, declined the opportunity to speak before sentencing, saying "I have nothing to add."

His lawyer, Christopher McClure, had asked the judge for the minimum sentence, 15 years to life, after asserting that the jury came to the wrong decision about a case built entirely on circumstantial evidence. Outside court, he promised an appeal.

McClure read a letter from Perez-Olivo's three grown children, also requesting the minimum sentence.

"We have no mother, now we have no father," the letter said.

"We trusted in the legal system and it has failed us."

Only the oldest child, Carlos Perez-Hall, was in the courtroom; he declined comment. His brother Merced, who punched a hole in a courthouse wall when Perez-Olivo was convicted, and their sister, Alysia, were too upset to come to court, McClure said.

McClure said he had forwarded to the judge several letters from the dead wife's relatives in support of Perez-Olivo.

Prosecutor Perry Perrone argued for the maximum sentence, calling the crime "a well-conceived, well-thought-out, well-planned and well-executed premeditated murder."

Perez-Olivo, who had been disbarred for misconduct in his representation of criminal clients, was convicted of shooting his schoolteacher wife in the back of the head as they drove home to Chappaqua in November 2006. Prosecutors said he wanted his wife's life insurance, worth nearly $900,000.

Perez-Olivo blamed the attack on a carjacker, possibly a hit man hired by an angry client. But prosecutors said the superficial gunshot wound he suffered was self-inflicted and a witness testified that several months before the killing, he saw Perez-Olivo handling a gun just like the pre-World War II Walther PPK that investigators fished from a lake near the crime scene.

That gun was established as the murder weapon.

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