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A Solano County jury convicted a Fairfield man this morning of killing his estranged wife four years ago. Miguel Pantoja, 44, was found guilty of first-degree murder and use of a knife. He faces 26 years to life in prison when he is sentenced April 23, Solano County Deputy District Attorney Karen Jensen said.Pantoja stabbed his estranged wife Adriana Pantoja, 33, multiple times in her Suisun home ear-old daughter went with a family friend to the house where she lived with her mother to get clothes for her gym class, Jensen said.
The Pantojas were going through a divorce at the time and Adriana was getting child custody and possession of their house, Jensen said. Jensen said Pantoja made statements he would kill his wife if she got the house and custody of their daughter.”There were previous incidents of domestic violence,” Jensen said.The couple had been separated about four years before the murder, he said.
Jensen said when Pantoja was questioned by police about the murder on Jan. 7, 2008 he had fresh scratches on his face.Jensen said she presented evidence that said Miguel Pantoja’s DNA was found in skin under Adriana’s fingernails, linking him to the murder.The defense claimed another man killed Adriana Pantoja, Jensen said. Defense attorney Robert Warshawsky did not return a call for comment on the verdict today.
Pantoja’s mental competence was in question for several years and he spent time in Atascadero State Hospital in Atascadero, Jensen said. He claimed he heard voices and refused to take medicine for a kidney ailment, Jensen said. Two juries, however, found him competent to stand trial, Jensen said.
The 12 women on the murder trial jury began deliberations on March 14, but one of them who had to return to work was replaced Friday by a male alternate juror, Jensen said. The panel then began delibertions from the beginning on Monday and reached a verdict around 11:20 a.m. today, Jensen said.
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