Former HAAF soldier found guilty of malice murder - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Former HAAF soldier found guilty of malice murder

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

A former soldier stationed at Hunter Army Airfield will spend the rest of his live behind bars.

Emmanuel Perez was found guilty of malice murder on Thursday after the jury deliberated for more than four hours.

It was clear in the closing arguments that this case was not a matter of who shot Armando Montez, but the circumstances leading up to that point.

Perez is convicted of murdering Montez, the man who was sleeping with the soldier's wife.

"This is jealous and vengeance, pure and simple," said prosecutor Matthew Breedon. "That's what we heard."

The affair, the defense said, provoked the shooting in a heat of rage.

"I mean, his wife has removed his wedding ring just before this and replaced it with a ring from Armando, and then tells him he has no balls," said defense attorney Richard Darden. "How's he supposed to feel?"

No one denies Perez fired the gun. However, the defense was hoping to prove it was a case of manslaughter, that Perez and Montez argued at Brothers Tires last April in the moments leading up to the shooting, further pushing him to a boiling point until he snapped, shooting Montez  11 times.

"His gun jammed," said Darden. "Out of range and anger, he reloads and shoots him 10 more times. That speaks volumes about this case. That speaks volumes about the state of mind of Emmanuel."

The state said, making its case for murder, that Perez had been suspicious for weeks of the affair, even calling Montez the dead man in his phone. Then, when he went to Brothers Tires that day, he got out of the car with gun in hand, planning to fire all along.

"It's all a heat of passion he came to argue," said Breedon. "Or he was planning to use that gun and shoot someone. If you're planning to use the weapon, it's not voluntary manslaughter because you have the ability to think."

The jury agreed, convicting Perez of malice murder. He was also found guilty of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

He has been sentenced to life plus five years. He does have the ability to appeal the decision.

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