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Friday, June 7, 2002

Man who fled to Mexico sentenced for wife's murder

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) - Michael McGuffey, a former Brownwood, Texas, resident captured in Mexico last fall after eight years on the run following his ex-wife's shooting death, has been sentenced to nearly 27 years in prison.

The 26-year, eight-month sentence from Skagit County Superior Court Judge Susan Cook was the maximum allowed under state sentencing rules. It followed a suggestion by McGuffey that his wife may have provoked her own death.

"I'm not too sure if she wasn't pushing me to do this," McGuffey told a state prison official during a mandatory evaluation before his Wednesday sentencing.

The statement demonstrated that McGuffey lacked remorse, the judge said.

"I am flabbergasted by Mr. McGuffey's statement," she said. "That statement, in and by itself, demonstrates without a doubt that you haven't even come close to grips with what you've done."

McGuffey's words in the presentence hearing contrasted with apologies he gave in the courtroom Wednesday, and with a remorseful guilty plea he signed last month. There, he said he snapped during an argument with his ex-wife, Michele Torres.

Torres, 25, was shot several times in the head, neck and chest as she sat in her car outside the Mount Vernon restaurant where she worked.

Friends and relatives of the victim, Michele Torres, asked the judge for an exceptional sentence. But Cook said that because allegations of spousal abuse were not proven in court and McGuffey had no other criminal history, a sentence outside standard guidelines could not be justified.

McGuffey, 37, was captured in Guadalajara, Mexico in November. He had remarried and was raising an infant son.

Torres had obtained a restraining order against McGuffey weeks before her death. The couple had just divorced after a turbulent seven-year marriage. They had a daughter, Alysha, now 13.

A federal investigation is under way into whether McGuffey's mother aided him while he was a fugitive.

 

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