A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (Feb. 9) sentenced Viusqui Perez-Espinosa to life in prison for murdering his rival in a Kenner love triangle before cutting up the body and dumping the parts in a St. John the Baptist Parish swamp.
Perez, 50, was convicted as charged last week of the second-degree murder of Ives Alexis Portales-Lara. Portales was last seen alive on the evening of Jan. 11, 2016, in the Baylor Place apartment complex he shared with a woman and her ex-boyfriend, Perez.
Portales, who moved to the New Orleans area to be near his young daughter, was a native of Honduras and was 28.
Perez was convicted of the murder and of obstruction of justice in 2018. But the jury in that trial returned with a non-unanimous verdict on the murder count. Perez received a new trial for the murder, only, in 2020, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ramos vs. Louisiana that non-unanimous verdicts are unconstitutional.
The second jury seated to weigh the murder charge deliberated about four hours before returning with its unanimous guilty verdict on Jan. 31.
Perez and Portales were friends and coworkers whose commonality extended to a woman. Perez was sexually involved with her, but that relationship ended after she needed medical care that took her out of the United States briefly and he became involved with another woman.
Portales moved into the apartment with Perez’s ex, and that arrangement evolved into a sexual relationship. Perez, who temporarily moved back into the apartment, learned of the relationship and wanted to end it. On the morning of Jan. 11, 2016, Perez sexually assaulted the woman in the apartment after Portales departed to work. He returned to the apartment that evening and was never seen again.
The following month, a fisherman found the right arm in the Reserve Canal off Interstate 10, just west of LaPlace. The torso and leg parts were found by pipeline workers in the area the following week. The remaining body parts were never located.
DNA was used to confirm the parts were Portales’, leading to Perez’s indictment and convictions. At trial, he asserted self-defense.
Following the first trial, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Perez to the 40-year maximum for obstruction of justice, for his attempts to conceal the murder. The jury was unanimous on that charge, and his conviction remained intact. The life sentence she gave him in 2018 was overturned due to the Ramos decision.
On Thursday, Judge Kovach denied the defense’s motions for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and for a new trial. After hearing impact statements written by Portales’ family in Honduras, Judge Kovach sentenced Perez to the mandatory punishment of life in prison, without suspension of sentence, parole or probation, for killing Portales.
Judge Kovach ran the life sentence consecutive to the 40-year sentence she gave him in 2018 for obstruction of justice, and consecutive to the 6-month jail sentence she gave Perez last week in holding him in contempt for his lashing out at a prosecutor during her cross-examination.
Judge Kovach further denied a defense motion to reconsider the sentence, saying “the facts and circumstances of this case are particularly egregious.”
Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.