Family members described the heartache still felt by two boys whose father stabbed and killed their mother in their Eastlake home more than four years ago.
Maribel Arteaga, 28, was a Customs and Border Protection Officer who was also two months pregnant when Alex killed her in front of their sons. The boys were 6 and 4 years old when they saw their mother die. One may have seen the stabbing according to the deputy district attorney.
Maribel’s mother and sister spoke at Thursday’s sentencing about the affects the violent murder has had on Arteaga’s sons.
“He continues seeing blood on his hands just as he had that day, the day that you killed her,” Maribel Beltran said of Andy who is now 10.
His brother, Isaac, who was 4 when his mother died, remembers the day it happened and sometimes talks to his mother as if she were standing right in front of him, Beltran told the boys’ father.
The grandmother was brought to tears several times during her statement. She told the defendant his sons not only feel a sense of loss for their mother but of hate toward him.
“They will have the memory of a very sad childhood, empty without a mother that will put them to sleep and will tell them a story,” she said.
“You’ve left them marked forever.”
The victim’s sister, Melissa Castillo, described her former brother-in-law as a “selfish, coldhearted monster who has not showed any emotion or regret throughout this process.”
“Because of this horrible man, my nephews have exchanged the love, comfort and protection of their mother for nightmares, heartache, anxiety and sadness,” she said.
Castillo said the family’s priority is helping the boys overcome the trauma of witnessing such a violent crime.
She said watching the children try and explain to other children why they don’t have a mother is unbearable.
“My biggest fear is that my nephews will forget what she was like,” she told the court through tears. “I will make sure they will never forget how much she loved them.”
When it was Arteaga’s turn to address the court, he said he was supportive of Maribel’s decision to become a Customs and Border Protection agent and thought she would return to their home after graduating the academy.
“I never knew she had another man,” he said. “I never knew she did not love me.”
He offered an apology to both families scarred by his actions.
“I never wanted this for my family,” he said. “I never wanted this to happen. I always wanted the best thing for my family.”
Maribel was able to give a dying declaration to police officers, naming her estranged husband as her attacker.
Officer Arteaga had been assigned to the Tecate port of entry since May 18, 2009 when she entered on duty with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.