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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Woman Gets Life Without Parole in Husband's Slaying

September 06, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A Superior Court judge on Tuesday sentenced a Whittier woman to life in prison without parole in connection with a conspiracy to murder her wealthy husband for nearly $1 million in insurance and property.

Before the sentencing, Judge Jacqueline Connor denied Rebecca Cleland's motion for a new trial on various grounds, including alleged prosecutorial misconduct and incompetence on the part of her trial lawyer.

Cleland, 31, was convicted June 29 of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and special circumstances of murder for financial gain and lying in wait.

Her cousins Jose Quezada, 33, and his brother, Alvaro Quezada, 26, were convicted of the same charges. They were sentenced Aug. 4 to life in prison without parole.

Software designer Bruce Cleland, 43, was shot in the head and the back July 26, 1997, after his estranged wife pulled his Toyota 4Runner over after a dinner where she had gotten him drunk.

She told investigators at the time that someone knocked her unconscious and that she awoke to find her husband shot to death. She was arrested seven months later.

Key evidence in the case included cellular telephone records showing nearly a dozen calls placed between Cleland and Alvaro Quezada shortly before the murder. One of those calls, made just 10 minutes before the shooting, proved that Quezada was within a mile of the scene of the crime.

Prosecutors said that Jose Quezada was the gunman and Alvaro Quezada the getaway driver.

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