On Feb. 14, 1993, Juan Manuel Navarro shot and killed Ignacia Manriquez in the parking lot of Loma Linda University Medical Center. The murder took place in front of the couple’s 4-year-old son.
After 17 years on the run, Navarro was captured and ultimately sentenced to 30 years to life for the murder.
The following interview with Deputy District Attorney Margaret Bevan was conducted in conjunction with the release of a 10-min. video highlighting the brutal Valentine’s Day murder.
Q. Why was this case so important to you?
MB: This case was very important to me because of the nature of the incident. How dare someone think that they can take the life of another person and for no other reason than they feel they were disrespected in some way. How dare someone think that they have the right to take the life of the mother of their children because the victim did not want to be with you anymore. You can’t make someone love you and want to be with you.
To make things worse, in this case the defendant fled the country and began living his life as though the death of Ignacia did not mean anything. Then to marry and have another child and leave your other children to fend for themselves. To me there is nothing more egotistical and deplorable.
Q. Were you satisfied with the verdict?
MB: Yes, the verdict was justice for Ignacia and her family. The family had to wait almost two decades to have the murderer of Ignacia brought to trial. In those few moments when the jury indicated to the Court that they had reached a verdict, in those few moments as they walked into the courtroom, sat down and the Jury Foreman handed their verdict to the Judge, in those few moments that the Judge reviewed the verdict and until the Court Clerk read the verdict aloud, my mind was racing, my heart was pounding. I was replaying the trial in my head. I turned to Ignacia’s family and my heart stopped.
All I could do was pray that I had done my job and provided the jury with the evidence they needed to convict the defendant of 1st degree murder. When the Jury’s verdict was read, my eyes teared up. We had obtained a just verdict. I could not bring Ignacia back to her family, but I had it my power to convince the jury that the Defendant was guilty of this horrific crime and that he needed to held accountable for his crimes. The gratification from the victim’s family meant more than you can imagine. I went home that night, and overwhelming warmth came to me, as if Ignacia herself was hugging me.
Q. What does it mean to be a part of the District Attorney’s Office?
MB: On a personal note, the fulfillment I receive from doing something good for someone else is worth every sleepless night, every late night working on motions and research and time away from my family and friends. I am honored and proud to be part of DA’s office, whose resolve is to bring justice.