SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A man convicted of hiring Los Angeles gang members to kill his wife was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in state prison.
“Good always beats evil. I mean, this guy is the epitome of evil,” the victim’s brother Andre Wheat said outside of court.
Nuzzio Begaren, 53, was convicted last year of one felony count each of murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the Jan. 17, 1998 death of his 40-year-old wife, Elizabeth Wheat Begaren.
Begaren paid three gang members approximately $5,000 to fatally shoot his wife in order to collect a $1 million life insurance policy, the District Attorney’s Office said.
Guillermo Espinoza and his two accomplices ran Elizabeth Begaren, a corrections officer, off the road and shot her once in the chest and head as she tried to flee from her vehicle. Her body was found outside of her Kia on the side of the 91 Freeway in Anaheim.
Nuzzio and his 10-year-old daughter from a previous marriage were in the vehicle at the time of the murder. They were unharmed.
Nuzzio Begaren collected the $1 million life insurance a few years after the death of his wife.
The crime initially appeared to be a random roadside ambush as it went unsolved for 14 years.
New information allowed Orange County prosecutors to charge Begaren with murder in 2012. Investigators found a note the victim had scribbled documenting the license plate number of the gang members’ vehicle.
Espinoza, 38, faces the same charges as Begaren, and is a wanted fugitive.
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