By Hudson Sangree
In an effort to spare her husband from the death penalty, Angelique Topete took the stand in Yolo Superior Court this morning and told jurors of her love for Marco Antonio Topete.
"The first day I met him, I told my friend that was my husband," she said. The meeting had taken place behind the walls of Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City. What attracted, asked defense attorney Dwight Samuel. "His strength. I think he's a strong person," she said.
Angelique Topete was among the first witnesses called by defense lawyers today as they opened their case in the penalty phase of the capital murder trial of Topete for killing Yolo County Sheriff's Deputy Jose Antonio Diaz in June 2008. Jurors earlier this month convicted Topete on all counts of of first- degree murder with special circumstances.
Prosecutors rested their penalty-phase case this morning.
During the guilt phase of the trial, prosecutors had argued that Topete, a parolee wanted as a DUI suspect, lured Diaz on a chase and ambushed him with an assault rifle on a dirt road near rural Dunnigan. He died that night from a single gunshot wound to the chest.