Jose Luis Sandoval Goes to Court on Murder Count, Leaves with Guilty Plea and No Prison

Categories: Court, Crime-iny

You don't see this often in Orange County courthouses: a man who went in with a murder charge and later pleaded guilty left without being sent to state prison.

Technically, 37-year-old Jose Luis Sandoval was sentenced Friday to a year behind bars for helping a friend kill his wife, a state corrections officer, way back in 1998.

Nuzzio Begaren Guilty of Murder for Hiring Gang Members to Bump Off His Wife in 1998

Sandoval pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, under a plea deal that had him testifying for the prosecution in the case against the dead woman's husband Nuzzio Begaren, who was found guilty last month of murdering Elizabeth Wheat Begaren. The 52-year-old faces 25 years to life at his Dec. 6 sentencing.

After buying a $1 million life insurance policy on his new bride Elizabeth, Begaren recruited gang members to kill the corrections officer--who worked in the prison system's internal affairs division--and make it look like a robbery gone deadly. On Jan. 17, 1998, Begaren, his wife and his 10-year-old daughter by a previous relationship went to a Macy's in Burbank, where he had encouraged Elizabeth to carry $5,000 in cash in her purse. What she did not know was that was to be the payment to her killers.

Guillermo Espinoza and Jose Luis Sandoval followed the Begaren family's Kia Sportage in a 1985 Buick Regal and, around 11 p.m. off the 91 freeway in Anaheim, the Kia was forced off the road by the Buick. As Nuzzio Begaren huddled with his daughter in the back of the car, Elizabeth tried to run from the vehicle but was shot in the face and chest by Espinoza and died. The father and daughter were unharmed.

Espinoza remains at large.

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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Sad/bad news, since a bullet costs so little and authorities should have put one right into is skull.

Rory Murray
Rory Murray

And yet, Long Beach will retry Joe Grumbine for helping cannabis patients. WTF?

JGlanton topcommenter

1985 Buick Regal.  Classic gang-banger car.

Dennis Frisby
Dennis Frisby

Probably an illegal, so he gets special treatment.

Nita Charlton
Nita Charlton

The OC District Attorney's Office and Attorneys in the office are THE WORST - they have NO IDEA what justice is or means!! This is only one of their complete F-ups....DISGUSTING AND HEARTBREAKING for those of us who have been wronged by the Justice System!!! Excuse me...The NO-JUSTICE System!!!


Where is the rest of the dang story. How did he just walk out... What did he "get"??? Formal probation? What

Sara Coronado
Sara Coronado


MatthewTCoker topcommenter

@DaniGirl949 Good catch, DaniGirl: he was essentially sentenced to time he'd already served behind bars.

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