Roswell man given 5 life sentences in shooting deaths of wife, 4 daughters

Crime

ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico man, who suddenly pleaded no contest to killing his wife and four children years ago, will spend the rest of his life behind bars. On Wednesday, Juan David Villegas spoke up at his sentencing, but still denied committing the crime.

The sentence was given after an emotional morning in court for the victims’ family. They said they still don’t know why this tragedy happened.

“Horror is what occurred to this family,” Chaves County Court Judge Dustin Hunter said.

A New Mexico family is still living in pain from losing 34-year-old Cynthia Villegas and her four daughters, ages 3 to 14.

“We will never know the futures that laid before them,” Judge Hunter added.

The alleged killer in the shooting deaths at their Roswell home in 2016 was the kids’ father, Juan David Villegas.

“We have so many unanswered questions,” said a speaker on behalf of one of Cynthia’s brothers.

The 39-year-old had stopped his murder trial last week to change his plea from not guilty to no contest. At his sentencing on Wednesday, he faced five life sentences for the first degree murder counts.

“It cannot bring the victims back. It cannot heal the family’s wounds,” Judge Hunter said.

A woman read a statement on behalf of one of Cynthia’s brothers: “My sister had the most caring, loving heart that anyone could ask for.”

Then, Villegas spoke alongside an interpreter. “I did not commit this crime,” the interpreter said.

But, Judge Hunter wasn’t having it, and became visibly emotional. “Would Janeth have been a teacher? Yamilen a doctor? Abigayl a police officer? Idaleigh a dancer?” he asked about the four girls.

He even apologized to the victims’ family for getting no answers from Villegas on Wednesday.

“I was hoping today Mr. Villegas would indicate to the court the harm that he caused – that he admitted the causing… but that did not happen,” Judge Hunter said.

Then, he slapped Villegas with the maximum sentence.

“Words cannot express the complete and utter destruction caused by the acts of Mr. Villegas. It is a nightmare,” he said.

All five life sentences are to be served consecutively, meaning Villegas will spend the rest of his life behind bars. At trial, prosecutors claimed Villegas killed his family and fled to Mexico after discovering Cynthia planned to divorce him.

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