|For Immediate Release
Case # 12ZF0139
August 20, 2013
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
Cell: 714-292-2718Farrah Emami
MAN FACES TRIAL FOR 1998 COLD CASE CONSPIRACY MURDER OF WIFE TO COLLECT $1 MILLION LIFE INSURANCE POLICY
*Gang member co-defendant is a fugitive in this case
SANTA ANA – A man faces trial tomorrow for the cold case conspiracy murder of his wife in 1998 to collect a $1 million life insurance policy. Nuzzio Begaren, 52, is charged with one felony count each of special circumstances murder and conspiracy to commit murder with sentencing enhancements for murder for financial gain and murder in the commission of a robbery. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements are expected to begin Aug. 21, 2013, at 9:15 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Gang member Guillermo Espinoza, 38, faces the same charges and maximum sentence as Begaren. He is a fugitive with a no-bail warrant for his arrest. Espinoza is listed at www.orangecountyda.com as one of the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Most Wanted.
Circumstances of the Case
On July 4, 1997, Nuzzio Begaren married Elizabeth Begaren, a correctional officer at a California state prison. Three days later, on July 7, 1997, he is accused of taking out a $1 million life insurance policy on his new wife.
Sometime between July 1997 and January 1998, Nuzzio Begaren is accused of soliciting members of a Los Angeles criminal street gang to murder Elizabeth Begaren.
On the night of Jan. 17, 1998, Nuzzio Begaren is accused of taking the victim and his 10-year-old daughter to a shopping mall in Burbank with the knowledge that gang members would be waiting to carry out the arranged murder. While shopping in Macy’s, Nuzzio Begaren is accused of placing $5,000 in cash in his wife’s purse as payment for the pending murder under the pretense of having her hold their shopping money. Nuzzio Begaren is accused of pretending to be alarmed upon seeing a group of gang members watching him and his family. He is accused of leaving with Elizabeth Begaren and his daughter.
At approximately 11:00 p.m. that night, Espinoza and his accomplices are accused of following Nuzzio Begaren and the victim in their car. Nuzzio Begaren is accused of exiting California State Route 91 in Anaheim and then attempting to re-enter the freeway. Espinoza and the other gang members are accused of running him off the road.
The gang members are accused of getting out of the vehicle armed with firearms and approaching the victim. Nuzzio Begaren is accused of getting out of the driver’s seat under the pretense of moving to the back of the vehicle to protect his daughter.