Man accused of murdering his wife in 2002 to go to trial
By Beth Kramer firstname.lastname@example.org April 3, 2013 8:34PM
Updated: June 3, 2013 2:05AM
A jury won’t get go hear testimony that a former Waukegan resident called his wife a “bad person,” a judge ruled Wednesday, April 3.
A jury will get to hear testimony about the rocky relationship Ruben Contreras, 51, had with his wife Graciela Guijarro before she was killed, Circuit Judge Mark Levitt ruled.
Contreras is due to go on trial next week for allegedly murdering his wife May 26, 2002. Her decomposed remains were found in June 2002 at the Camp St. Francis Forest Preserve in Waukegan near Daybreak Farm Stables, where Contreras worked as a horse groomer. Officials said they believed he fled to Mexico shortly after his wife was slain Memorial Day weekend 2002.
Contreras was extradited to the United States in 2008 for first-degree murder charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors James Newman and Scott Hoffert were before Levitt Wednesday with defense attorney Christopher Lombardo to finalize what evidence will be presented to jurors next week.
Contreras told a fellow ranch hand that his wife was a “bad person,” that they did not get along and were having relationship problems, Newman said. These admissions were made six to nine months before his wife was killed, Newman said.
“He ... had a bad relationship with his wife. This shows motive and intent to kill,” Newman said.
Lombardo objected, calling the statements hearsay. Levitt said the state could not use the “bad person” comment as evidence.
Prosecutors will not be barred from asking witnesses about fights and arguments between Contreras and his wife, Levitt said.
Newman said he planned to present Contreras’ recorded confession for the jury next week. Contreras told police he put his hand over her nose and mouth after she told him she wanted to leave him, Newman said.
If convicted, Contreras faces 20 to 60 years in prison. He remains in custody at Lake County Jail without bond.