A Baldwin Park man who in 2008 severely beat his wife and then left her and her unborn child to die slowly over a period of several hours was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole.
Carlos Luis, 39, was convicted by a jury in March of first-degree murder for the death of his wife, Bertha Luis, and second-degree murder for the death of the 25-week-old fetus she was carrying.
For the first-degree murder, Luis received a sentence of life in prison without parole. For the second-degree murder, he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Bertha Luis, then 35, died hours after she was found slumped on the bathroom floor of the Baldwin Park home she shared with Carlos Luis and their two children, said Deborah Scott, the prosecutor on the case.
Carlos Luis declared that Bertha Luis, who “was really out of it,” was drunk and told his children to leave her on the bathroom floor, Scott said. When he checked on her later that day, she was dead.
Carlos Luis told police his wife injured herself in a fall, Scott said. But a coroner’s investigation found numerous internal injuries, including several broken ribs, lacerations to her liver, and bruising on her pancreas and colon. She may have also been suffering from a concussion.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office determined her cause of death to be “abdominal blunt-force trauma inflicted by another person,” as well as bleeding in her uterus, said Los Angeles County Coroner Deputy Chief Ed Winter.
Some of the broken ribs had already begun healing, Scott said, leading investigators to believe that Bertha Luis had been subjected to ongoing domestic violence. In addition, she had bruising on her arms, indicating she had tried to shield her abdomen, and unborn child, from the blows.
“Later on we learned he did make statements that he had in fact hit her in the past, kicked her in the past, slapped her in the past,” Scott said.
Scott said statements by the couple’s children led investigators to believe Bertha Luis was beaten sometime during the weekend, and left to suffer until she died Monday, Sept. 1, 2008.
Family members of Bertha Luis told investigators that Carlos Luis had been assaulting her from almost the time they met in 1989, when she was only 15.
“He was her first boyfriend and things went downhill from there,” Scott said.
When Carlos Luis found out his wife was pregnant, he began urging her to get an abortion, despite her desire to keep the baby, Scott said.
“They had been together for 19 years,” Scott said. “That last month before she died, she started telling people she planned to leave him.”
The couple’s son is now an adult and lives on his own, Scott said. Their daughter is in the custody of Carlos Luis’ mother.
Both Bertha Luis’ mother and sister appeared in court Friday, Scott said.
Luis will return to court next month for a restitution hearing to determine how much he should pay to Bertha Luis’ family for her burial costs.
- J.D. Velasco