HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii-based soldier has admitted to beating his wife with a baseball bat while she lay face down on the bed as she slept, and then stabbing her in the back the morning after their first anniversary.
Army Spc. Raul Hernandez Perez changed his plea Monday in the death of Selena Roth, 25, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
In exchange for pleading guilty to premeditated murder and disobeying a no-contact order, he was expected to be sentenced Tuesday to 50 to 65 years in prison following the continuation of victim impact statements in a military courtroom at Wheeler Army Airfield.
He had initially pleaded not guilty in June.
Hernandez Perez, 24, is a signals intelligence analyst assigned to the 500th Military Intelligence Brigade.
Army prosecutors said the couple were going through a divorce initiated by Hernandez Perez, who wanted to get back together with a high school sweetheart in Florida.
Military prosecutors said Hernandez Perez took out a $100,000 life insurance policy on his wife on Dec. 15.
Early in the morning on Jan. 10, Hernandez Perez searched online for how many swings it took to kill someone with a bat.
He acknowledged in court that he retrieved a baseball bat from the garage and bashed her on the head four time as she lay face down.
When he saw her chest was still rising and falling, he said he got a kitchen knife and plunged it in her back four times.
Her body was found on Jan. 13 stuffed in an outdoor trash bin which had been moved just inside Roth’s house on Schofield Barracks.
Nearly a dozen of Roth’s family members flew to Hawaii for the hearing. They spoke of her love for her 2-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, her concern and love for stray animals and the strain her death has caused.
“I pray she didn’t suffer,” Roth’s sister, Kristen Coniglio, said Monday when delivering one of the 11 victim impact statements.
Another sister, Julie Ingoglia, said he dumped Roth’s body “like a piece of trash.”
The divorce was imminent, and he planned to move to another state. “This was such a senseless murder,” Ingoglia said. “Raul has robbed my family of so much.”
The defense made no statement at the hearing, and no witnesses were called.
When asked by the military judge why he was guilty of murder, Hernandez Perez described how he spent the night of their anniversary at her home and then killed her.
He said he was up at 4 a.m. Jan. 10 and “started thinking of what she (Roth) had done previously to make me go through the divorce,” he said.
He cited her actions like sending cow manure to his family, harassing him and threatening to kill his mother, which he called the “final tipping point.”
“I thought I had to get rid of her … kill her,” he said.