SAN DIEGO - A nurse who fatally shot his estranged wife -- also a registered nurse -- and her male friend after watching them cuddle in her Sabre Springs apartment was sentenced today to 80 years to life in state prison.
Melchor Marabante, 43, pleaded guilty in August to a pair of second- degree murder charges and admitted the use of a gun in the Feb. 20, 2011, slayings of his 23-year-old wife and her colleague and friend, 26-year-old Bernabe Villamar.
"My heart is broken forever," said Valerie Marabante's mother, Leann Sidlin. "I will never recover from losing her. I hate you Mel Marabante. It sickens me to call you family."
Sidlin said the defendant deserved the death penalty.
Valerie Marabante served her husband, who formerly worked for the state Department of Corrections, with divorce papers and kicked him out of their apartment about three weeks before she died, according to court testimony.
She was an R.N., working at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa, where Villamar was a licensed vocational nurse.
Retired San Diego police Officer Kenneth Hodges testified at a hearing last year that Villamar's body was found in the living room and Valerie Marabante's body was found in the garage. A patio door had been broken down from the outside and a broken tree stake was found nearby, Hodges testified.
Philip Marabante testified that his brother told him that he saw his wife and her friend kissing and hugging and then shot them with a gun that his sibling had taken away from him and put in his trunk when the defendant moved in with him.
Philip Marabante said his brother had told him he thought his wife was having an affair with a co-worker.
After the murders, the defendant told his brother, "I killed them. I killed them both. First I shot the fat ugly Filipino guy, and then I killed Val."
Sidlin told Judge Peter Deddeh that Villamar was simply a co-worker and friend.
"Val was never unfaithful in her marriage," her mother said today in court.
Bernabe's older brother called the defendant a "killer, murderer and animal."
"You should have taken your own life away," Marlone Villamar told Marabante.
Susan Barboza Anderson, who worked with Valerie Marabante, said she was a "breath of fresh air."
"Valerie taught us to live life to the fullest," Anderson said.
Eight days before she died, the victim said her estranged husband had been stalking her but she wasn't afraid because he would never hurt her, Anderson said.
Marabante, in a prepared statement, said he was sorry to the victims' families for "the pain and suffering I've caused."
"I did love Valerie with all my heart," the defendant said. "Please find it in your heart to forgive me."
The Marabantes had been together about five years and married in April 2009. The defendant has three sons who will grow up without their father in their lives, the judge said.
"Was it worth it?" Deddeh asked the defendant. "What were you thinking?"