SAN BERNARDINO — A jury found an Ontario woman not guilty of murdering her husband today and deadlocked on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, the woman’s attorney said.
Mia Gonzales shot and killed her husband, state parole agent Abel Gonzales, during what she described as a violent argument on Oct. 27, 2007 about the future of the couple’s troubled marriage.
The acquittals on charges of first- and second-degree murder leave voluntary manslaughter as the only active charge against Mia Gonzales. Paired with a “special allegation” of using a firearm, it carries a maximum prison sentence of 21 years.
Mia Gonzales will also have her bail reduced as a result of the verdicts, said her attorney, Mark Fredrick. Gonzales has been jailed since the shooting in lieu of $2 million bail.
The jury of nine women and three men was split 11-1 in favor of a guilty verdict for voluntary manslaughter, Frederick said.
Mia Gonzales, 36, testified during the trial in San Bernardino Superior Court that her husband beat her severely during a midnight argument in the couple’s bedroom in the 1900 block of South Almond Street.
Abel Gonzales became enraged when his wife asked whether the couple should seek a divorce, Mia Gonzales testified.
She said her suggestion of divorce came after several months of physical abuse from her husband.
In order to protect herself and her daughters — who were in the home at the time — Mia Gonzales said she retrieved a revolver during the argument from a cabinet in the bedroom. She said she never intended to hurt her husband.
The couple struggled over the weapon and it inadvertently fired, Mia Gonzales testified. A bullet entered Abel Gonzales’ brain and killed him within seconds.
A prosecutor argued during the trial that Mia Gonzales lied about the circumstances of the shooting and fabricated allegations that she was abused by Abel Gonzales, 44.
Deputy District Attorney Mary Izadi portrayed the wife as the aggressor in the incident, and said Mia Gonzales was upset over her husband’s infidelity.
Izadi did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Fredrick said Mia Gonzales was relieved that she was acquitted of murder and cried when the verdicts were returned this afternoon.
Fredrick said jurors told him after the hearing that they believed Mia Gonzales’ testimony that her husband’s shooting was accidental. But they questioned her decision to retrieve a revolver, he said.
“The felt there were other options available to her besides getting the gun,” he said.
The jury reached its verdicts after nine days of deliberations, which followed six days of witness testimony and arguments from attorneys.