WYOMING, Mich. — A man illegally in the country who police say admitted to strangling his girlfriend in October will go to trial for her murder after detectives say the two argued because she wanted to leave him.
Raul Perez, 43, is charged with open murder in the Oct. 26 death of Karla Guadalupe Magana, who was found dead on the bathroom floor in Perez's 44th Street apartment in Wyoming.
It's a crime investigators now say was fueled by Perez's own jealousy after Magana expressed wanting to see other people before threatening to turn Perez into authorities for using a fake name if he didn't abide by her wishes.
"In his opinion that was his girlfriend," Det. Robert Robinson with the Wyoming Police Department testified on Wednesday. "When she expressed she wanted to see other people, he said that escalated things.”
Perez had been arrested just days prior to the killing and used a fake name with police, potentially allowing him to slip through the system undetected that he was in the country illegally. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Perez had been deported twice from the country to Mexico in 2005 and 2008.
Perez told investigators Magana threatened to turn him.
The two fought before temporarily reconciling, investigators say Perez told them, and then the phone rang.
"In his mind, the phone ringing was the other boyfriend calling," Robinson testified. "He said he followed her and tried to get her to come back to bed.”
Robinson said Perez told him he was convinced another man was outside the apartment and he did not want to let her leave, fearing he didn't know when he'd see her again.
“That escalated into a physical altercation in which he eventually confessed to me and said ‘I killed her,'" Robinson told a judge.
Further testimony revealed Perez had consumed one full fifth of rum earlier in the night and nearly all of another bottle.
Perez's daughter, Kimberly Perez, testified the night of Magana's death she'd driven her father, at his request, to pick up Magana.
"He was really drunk," she said, but once Magana was in the car she never recalled any tension. She testified the two were holding hands and kissing each other during the drive.
"They seemed perfectly fine," Perez's daughter said. She testified she dropped the two off at Perez's apartment, which was in the same complex as her own apartment.
Hours later, she said she received a call from her father around 4 a.m. in which he admitted to the killing.
"I answered and he’s just telling me that he loves me and he’s sorry," she testified. "I’m like ‘Dad, you’re still drunk, what are you talking about?’ and then he said he was being serious and says ‘I did something really bad.'"
Kimberly Perez said she didn't know what to think at first and didn't immediately believe her father, but called police to ask them to check on the apartment. Initially, officers did not find anything because no one answered the door.
Eventually, she said she went to check herself and found her father passed out on the bed and Magana's body on the bathroom floor covered with a towel.
Perez's defense attorney appeared to question the legitimacy of his client's interrogation with police because he was never offered a translator. Detectives admitted he was not offered one but also never asked for one, saying it never at any time appeared he couldn't understand what was being said to him. The judge noted the entire interrogation was video recorded.
Despite the concerns, the judge still determine there was substantial evidence to bound the case over to trial.