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Hawaii-based soldier sentenced to 62 years for killing wife

September 15, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — A military judge sentenced a Hawaii-based soldier to 62 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to premediated murder for brutally beating and stabbing his wife.

The Army’s prosecutor sought the full 65-year term for 24-year-old Spc. Raul Hernandez Perez, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday. The plea agreement called for a sentence of between 50 and 65 years.

Hernandez Perez admitted he bashed his wife, Selena Roth, on the head four times with a baseball bat as she slept in her home on the Schofield Barracks base and then stabbed her in the back four times to make sure she was dead.

Roth, 25, was an Army veteran and mother of a daughter who was then 1.

Army prosecutor Capt. Benjamin Koenigsfeld noted Roth was viciously bludgeoned, stabbed and dumped into a trash bin that had been wheeled into the foyer of her home.

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Hernandez Perez also pleaded guilty to violating an order from his command not to have contact with his wife.

He said in divorce filings that on Oct. 31 he was moving out of the house over an argument and that Roth tossed his PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and computer tower out on the driveway. She also let the air out of his tires, he said.

Defense attorney Capt. Brian Tracy said in his closing remarks that it was “unbridled emotion that brought us here.”

Tracy said Roth had made a threat against Hernandez Perez’s mother and twice mailed cow manure to her.

He asked the judge to sentence the soldier to 50 years, saying Hernandez Perez was a then-23-year-old “pushed to the brink” who “felt boxed in.”

On the witness stand, Hernandez Perez said to Roth’s family, “I would like to apologize for what I’ve done.”

Col. Mark Bridges, the judge in the case, sentenced the soldier to 62 years and a dishonorable discharge, with credit for 244 days of pretrial confinement.

Wearing his camouflage uniform and a black face mask, Hernandez Perez showed no emotion when the sentence was handed down, just as he had been for all the proceedings.

Technically, he will be eligible for parole after 10 years, but the Army said fewer than 10% of military prisoners are freed early.