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Man gets life in prison for murdering ex-girlfriend

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Two families relived the past Wednesday as they sat in court for the retrial of a man convicted for shooting his ex-girlfriend to death back in 2005.

A second jury in the last six years handed down a life sentence to shooter Quinn Cruz. Both Cruz's and victim Tonya West's families sat in court and became emotional after the sentence was announced.

"They're destroying people's lives the way this murderer did and there's not much I can really say except America needs to change," said Lawrence Felts, West's father.

Felts has spent the last eight years mourning the loss of his daughter.
KFOX14 cameras were on the scene right after West was shot to death in front of a west El Paso apartment complex.

"We done a good thing today," said Felts.

Wednesday afternoon a second jury sentenced Cruz to life in prison and he must pay a $10,000 fine.

"It's a closure," said Felts.

This closure comes after a long road.
Back in 2007, Cruz was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In 2010, his conviction was reduced to murder.

Attorneys said the original conviction was based on West being pregnant and evidence showed Cruz didn't know. It sparked a retrial, even though it's not what Wests family wanted.

"Let it be. Everybody knows what I'm talking about," said Felts.

In the end, jurors decided Cruz is too much of a threat to the community and his life sentence remains.

"He is continually a threat. We put on evidence to show that he is not an inmate that can be contained. He's got several threats against detention officers and then we put on evidence to show that he even tried to stab a detention officer with a homemade shank," said prosecuting attorney Denise Butterworth.

Despite getting the sentence they wanted, Wests family still has questions and concerns.

"I don't know when America is going to get tired of this," said Felts.

These are concerns West's family was going to confront Cruz about during victim impact statements. It's a time the family can go face-to-face with Cruz. But they'll have to wait.

"In all my years this is the first time I've seen a defendant, after he's received his verdict, refuse to come back out for what we call the victim impact statement," said Butterworth.

The victim's family will get a chance to confront Cruz tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. At that time, the judge will also formally sentence Cruz.


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