Convicted of killing his rival in a Kenner love triangle before dismembering the slain man’s body and discarding the parts in a River Parishes swamp, Viusqui J. Perez-Espinosa was sentenced Thursday (April 26) to spend the rest of his life in prison plus 40 years.
Perez, 45, a Cuban national whose work history included that of a butcher, was convicted as charged last month of the second-degree murder of Alexis Portales-Lara on Nov. 11, 2016. Portales was murdered in the Baylor Place apartment he shared with his lover, a woman who also is a Cuban national and who previously was romantically involved with Perez.
According to trial testimony, Perez hoped to rekindle the relationship, and Portales was in the way.
On the day after he killed Portales, Perez disarticulated the body, stuffed the remains in garbage bags and drove to St. John the Baptist Parish, where he dumped the bags into the swamp near the Reserve Canal off Interstate 10.
For his efforts to conceal his crime, Perez also was convicted as charged of obstruction of justice and was sentenced Thursday to the maximum 40 years in prison.
Portales, a Honduran national, moved to East Jefferson to be close to his young daughter, according to trial evidence.
Portales’ ex-wife provided a statement to the court in lieu of live impact testimony on Thursday, expressing the emotional and financial hardships she and their 5-year-old daughter suffer because of his death.
“With tears in her eyes, she tells me, ‘Mommy, I miss my daddy,’” the mother wrote.
Portales and Perez worked together for a scaffold company in Norco. Portales moved in with Perez’s ex-girlfriend in Kenner. She later allowed Perez to temporarily move in with them after his relationship with another woman ended, according to evidence presented to the jury.
Portales was last seen alive on the evening of Nov. 11, 2016. The Kenner Police Department initially investigated the matter as a missing person’s complaint and found blood in the Baylor Place apartment. That blood was later determined to be Portales’, according to evidence presented during the trial.
Then, on Dec. 29, 2016, a fisherman found a right arm in the Reserve Canal. The following month, pipeline workers who were dredging the canal found the legs and torso. The remains were determined to be Portales, whose head and left arm have not been located.
At trial, the jury heard testimony about Perez sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend in the apartment after Portales went to work. Perez, who denies assaulting the woman, asserted he was defending himself from Portales’ attack. During the scuffle, Perez asserted in trial testimony, Portales stabbed himself in the neck and caused his own death.
Perez testified that the body was too heavy for him to move, so he cut it into pieces. His attorney told jurors that he panicked.
At the end of a six-day trial, a Jefferson Parish jury on March 26 convicted Perez as charged of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice.
After denying defense motions for a new trial and post-verdict judgment of acquittal on Thursday, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court handed down the sentences, which she ran consecutively.
Judge Kovach noted, “I can think of no worse obstruction of justice than that which occurred in this case.”
Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.