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Wife Crashes SUV, Kills Husband Clinging to Hood

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on August 06, 2013 8:42 AM

A New York wife accused of killing her husband with her SUV is now in custody on murder charges.

The Queens woman allegedly sped around two boroughs of New York City with her husband clinging to the hood of the SUV before she crashed into another SUV and killed the man Sunday morning.

Police sources told the New York Post that the husband, 34-year-old Soria Espinosa, was screaming, "Stop the car!" -- but that only made suspect Maria Espinosa, 51, allegedly floor it, hitting speeds up to 80 mph.

Clinging to the Hood

A charge for murder means prosecutors believe the suspect killed someone intentionally. The degree of the charge indicates whether the murder was premeditated.

Investigators say a dispute about money triggered the incident, and led Soria to jump onto the SUV's hood. When Soria wouldn't get off the hood, Espinosa backed up, hitting a parked car in an attempt to shake him off, according to the Post.

But he stayed on. So Espinosa hit the gas and reached speeds of up to 80 mph -- with Soria clinging for his life on the hood.

Espinosa drove nine blocks before making a U-turn. She then drove about two more blocks before she struck a car, pinning Soria and killing him, police say.

Allegations of Domestic Violence

While there are some defenses to murder, it's unlikely that Espinosa's actions will fall under one of them. A self-defense theory probably wouldn't apply since it doesn't seem Soria was threatening her when he asked her for the car keys and money.

However, there were past incidents of domestic violence between them, according to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Still, even if a defendant fears death or bodily harm, her reaction to a threat can't take place after the threat of death or bodily harm has passed. Here, any threat Soria may have posed likely passed when he was clinging to the SUV's hood, so Maria would likely have a tough time trying to justify lethal force to a jury.

After the crash, Espinosa was allegedly crying and appeared confused, according to witnesses. That could suggest an eventual insanity defense or "heat of passion" affirmative defense as her case proceeds.

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