A Fairfield man was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison Tuesday for the stabbing murder of his estranged wife in her Suisun City home in 2008.
Miguel Pantoja, 44, was convicted in March of first-degree murder of his 33-year-old wife Adriana Pantoja on Jan. 5, 2008 and use of a knife. Defense attorney Robert Warshawsky argued during the trial that a friend and suitor of the victim, Martin Alvarez, confessed to the slaying. Alvarez later recanted his testimony and testified against Pantoja at the trial, Warshawsky said. Warshawsky also contested DNA and fingerprint evidence against Pantoja that was presented by Deputy District Attorney Karen Jensen.
Jensen said Pantoja stabbed his estranged wife multiple times in her Suisun City home. Her body was found in a bathtub two days later when the victim’s 13-year-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. Jensen’s DNA evidence included skin taken from under the victim’s fingernails. Jensen said when Pantoja was questioned by police on Jan. 7, 2008 he had fresh scratches on his face. 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 medication for a kidney ailment, Jensen said. Two juries, however, found him competent to stand trial, Jensen said.
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