Gardendale man receives life sentence for murder of common law wife

Gardendale man receives life sentence for murder of common law wife

ECTOR COUNTY, TX (KWES) - An Ector County jury sentenced Danny Munguia, 31, to life in prison and a $10,000 fine - the maximum punishment for a first-degree felony - Tuesday evening after deliberating for 20 minutes.

The Gardendale resident pleaded guilty Monday morning to the 2014 murder of his common law wife, 22-year-old Alexandra Ann Kennedy.

Her mother, Tiffany Gough, took the stand to address Munguia before officers led him away in handcuffs.

"You were the love of my daughter's life," she told him, crying. "I give you forgiveness... but I will never forget what you did to her... to me [and] to my family."

Paramedics were dispatched to the couple's Camelia Drive home in Gardendale on July 4, 2014 and found Kennedy face down, on the living room floor, brutally beaten and surrounded by pools of blood, according to authorities.

She was cold to the touch and had likely been dead for hours before Munguia called 911, an Odessa Fire/Rescue official testified Monday.

The forensic pathologist who performed Kennedy's autopsy took the stand Tuesday and told the court strangulation had been ruled as her official cause of death.

Blunt force trauma alone had not killed the 22-year-old mother, he testified, but nevertheless left her with numerous internal and external injuries.

Prosecutors showed the court more than two dozen photos of Kennedy's bruised, bloodied body.

The forensic pathologist said her front teeth and incisors were knocked loose in the attack; both eyes were blackened; her nose was broken; her tongue was lacerated, possibly from the pressure of her own bite; and the inside of her upper lip was torn.

Kennedy also sustained injuries to her neck, upper chest, shoulders, back and knees, he said, and had brain damage caused by internal bleeding.

"[Munguia] deserved every bit of [the maximum sentence]," said District Attorney Bobby Bland. "I thank the jury for... doing their part in serving justice today... This sentence is a message to everyone that our community does not tolerate domestic abuse."

Defense attorney Jason Leach was unavailable for comment.

Gough said her daughter's death had prompted her to advocate for other victims of abuse. She co-founded "Paint the Basin Purple," a local group dedicated to "breaking the silence" of domestic violence.

"I've made it my mission to spread knowledge and awareness," she said. "It's not only women [who are victimized]. It's men, too... It's not only physical abuse. There's mental, verbal, sexual, financial [and] spiritual [abuse]... [I want victims to know] there's help out there... Speak up."

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