A man who stabbed his estranged wife to death in a jealous rage outside her Southcrest home, then abandoned their three children by fleeing to Mexico, was sentenced Thursday to 26 years to life in state prison.
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Mauricio Tadeo Alba, 47, pleaded guilty earlier this month to first-degree murder in the Jan. 26, 2006 death of Alma Tadeo.
The 36-year-old victim was stabbed six times in her van as she tried to leave to work a second job, Deputy District Attorney Michelle Ialeggio said.
When officers arrived, they found the victim on the ground and the van's engine still running.
About 20 minutes later, the defendant's pickup truck crossed into Mexico. Detectives recovered the vehicle at the Tijuana International Airport the next day. The couple's three children were placed in protective custody.
"Their family was completely ripped apart," the prosecutor told Judge Eugenia Eyherabide.
Ialeggio said the defendant had beaten his wife for years, almost on a weekly basis.
The victim obtained a restraining order against him in October 2004 and filed for divorce a year later. She was engaged to a new man at the time of her death.
"This case is beyond heartbreaking," Ialeggio told the judge.
Alma Tadeo's fiance, Sam Kelly, said in a letter that she was the "love of his life."
"Alma will forever live in my heart," Kelly said.
Ialeggio called the victim's killing a "brutal, unprovoked murder."
Defense attorney Ray Aragon told the judge that his client was "sorry and regretful for his conduct."
After the murder, homicide detectives worked with prosecutors to obtain an arrest warrant -- issued in October 2010 -- to allow for the defendant's extradition to the United States.
In February 2011, FBI agents and Mexican police arrested the defendant at a relative's home near Mexico City. The defendant was extradited to the United States and San Diego police took custody of him in July 2011.
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