A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (March 24) deliberated just over 20 minutes in convicting Pedro Monterroso of beating his girlfriend to death in their Metairie apartment while five of his children lay in a bed just feet away.
Monterroso, 51, is guilty as charged of the second-degree murder of Heidy Monroy, 24. The crime occurred in the early morning hours of July 13, 2014, in the apartment they shared in the 4000 block of Durand Street.
According to evidence presented at trial, Monterroso argued with Monroy over whether she was involved with another man. The fight turned physical, and he fatally beat and stabbed her as she lay in a bathtub. She died from blunt-force injuries to her head, and her hands had injuries indicative of defensive wounds.
After killing her, he rounded up three of his five children that were in the apartment and fled to Texas. The youngest of the three was a son he had with Monroy, a child who was whisked away wearing only a diaper, according to testimony. Monterroso fathered the other two children with Monroy’s sister.
Monterroso left behind in the apartment his two sons whom he fathered with Monroy. The boys found their mother’s nude body in the tub and sought help from a neighbor. That person notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, according to trial evidence.
Monterroso “just left them there to fend for themselves,” Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish told jurors in closing argument.
Monterroso was arrested the following day in Katy, Texas, and later extradited to Jefferson Parish to face charges.
In the apartment, investigators found a length of rebar wrapped in duct tape. Monterroso’s DNA was recovered from one end of the bar. Monroy’s hair and blood was found on the other end, according to testimony.
Monterroso used numerous aliases, including Pedro Monterroso Navas, Pedro Alberto Monterroso Navas, Wilson Rigoberto Varela Mena, Marlin Jovani Varela Mena, Carlos Humberto Cisneros Avila and Alberto Cisneros.
During the three-day trial, jurors heard testimony showing that Monterroso was physically abusive to Monroy, her sister and his children. The abuse included him hanging them upside-down using chains while they lived in Central America.
Jurors also heard that he was romantically involved with Monroy’s sister, who bore four of his children while she was unaware that he was married to another woman. And while in this relationship, Monterroso began having a relationship with her younger sister Heidy Monroy, who was a juvenile when it started. He fathered children with her, too, according to testimony.
While acknowledging that their client killed Monroy, Monterroso’s attorneys urged the jury to not be swayed by sympathy for the children. The attorneys asked jurors find Monterroso guilty of negligent homicide, a crime that is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Life in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence is the mandatory punishment for second-degree murder. Judge Donald “Chick” Foret of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Monterroso on May 4.
Assistant District Attorney Zach Popovich assisted ADA Rish in prosecuting Monterroso.