SAN DIEGO -- A man who stalked and strangled his estranged wife after learning she was dating an 18-year-old co-worker, then drove her body to police headquarters and surrendered two days later, was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder.
Americus De Orenday faces 25 years to life in prison when sentenced Feb. 20. Jurors deliberated one full day before reaching their verdict.
Deputy District Attorney Leonard Trinh said De Orenday told others that he would do “something stupid'' if he caught his 40-year-old estranged wife, Mirella, with her new boyfriend.
The prosecutor told the jury that the 46-year-old defendant also asked his three young children “How would you feel if I killed mommy?''
De Orenday had a history of violence against women, preventing a former wife from leaving the house and threatening to kill another woman he was dating, Trinh said.
De Orenday and the victim were married nine years and had separated a few months before she was killed, Trinh said.
The defendant had taken out a restraining order against his estranged wife and won custody of their 8-year-old daughter and 7-year-old twins, according to the prosecutor.
The victim's 17-year-old daughter from a previous relationship testified that her mother and the defendant argued often during their marriage, mostly about money but also about how to raise their three young children.
Defense attorney Liza Suwczinsky said her client loved his wife and went to her apartment on Sept. 21, 2013, with their three young children to talk to her about keeping their marriage together.
De Orenday convinced his spouse to go out to his truck and, once there, realized that his life was “shattered'' and went into a frenzy and strangled her in the heat of passion, Suwczinsky told the jury.
De Orenday kept his wife's bloodied body for two days before driving to police headquarters in downtown San Diego and turning himself in. The defendant tried three ways to kill himself before going to police, his attorney said, telling the jury that De Orenday should be convicted of voluntary manslaughter.