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Slain Bell Gardens Mayor Abused His Wife, Sources Say

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Sources close to Levette Crespo—the woman accused of fatally shooting her husband Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo—describe her as a victim of domestic abuse.Levette Crespo, 43, allegedly shot her husband during an argument in their Bell Gardens condominium Tuesday afternoon. A dispute between the couple escalated when their 19-year-old son tried to intervene and Daniel Crespo reportedly punched his son in the face, L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. Lt. Steve Jauch told the L.A. Times. Levette went to grab her husband's gun and shot him several times. Daniel was taken to a hospital, where he died.

A source close to Levette told NBC Los Angeles that Levette was abused by her husband since their early days as a couple who met in high school. This source said her son was also a victim of his father's abuse. While the wife suffered from abuse for their 28 years as a couple, it's not clear when the mayor started abusing his son—though this source said it had been going on for at least the last four years.

Levette didn't report any of her injuries to the police nor did the Bell Gardens police receive any domestic violence calls from their home.

Her lawyer, Eber Bayona told the Times, "Domestic violence and battered woman’s syndrome is at the center of this case." He offered few details except to say Levette that acted reasonably and it was unlikely that she would faced criminal charges. Bayona told a Spanish-language station (via CBS Los Angeles) that the shooting was not pre-meditated.

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Both the son and mother were taken to the hospital after the shooting to get treated for their facial injuries. When police questioned the family, the son confirmed Levette's account of the events and told them that his mother shot his father to save him. After hours of questioning Levette, authorities released her, and said that the district attorney's office would determine whether they should file charges.

The mayor's brother, William Crespo, painted a different picture of Daniel. He told CBS Los Angeles that he had never seen his brother beat up his son before. William had been with the couple the night before and said that they had been arguing about money. He talked to his brother earlier that day before the incident and Daniel told him: "She’s over here fighting that I spend too much money." On that particular day, Daniel said he was "really tired" after working both days and nights. William said, "She won't let him sleep."

Crespo also said that the couple's relationship was rocky and that they seemed to be headed towards a divorce.

Levette and Daniel were high school sweethearts who had been married since 1986 and had two children together. He had worked as a deputy probation officer for the past 15 years and then worked in a gang and narcotics unit. Crespo moved to Bell Gardens from New York in 1987 and was elected to City Council in 2001. He was elected mayor last December.

The shooting shocked friends, family and neighbors. Daniel's friend Albert Bernal said, "He worked at the County Probation Department where he was helping young adults to better themselves. So he was always trying to find alternative ways to…you know, violence was not an option."