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Plotter of wrestler's murder is sentenced

December 16, 2006|Kelly-Anne Suarez | Times Staff Writer

An Orange woman who talked her then-lover into killing an ex-boyfriend -- a high school wrestling star -- was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison by an Orange County judge.

Veronica Paz, 24, was convicted of first-degree murder in August for her role in luring Diego Armando Gonzalez to a lovers lane above Orange in November 2003. There he was shot to death and his body set afire by her sometime boyfriend, Brandan Dante Perry, then 20.

Gonzalez, 17, was a captain of the wrestling team at El Modena High School in Orange.

Judge James A. Stotler ordered that Paz serve a minimum of 25 years in prison.

According to testimony from the Santa Ana trial, Perry and Gonzalez had exchanged words at a party earlier that year. Gonzalez, a Latino, allegedly hurled racial slurs at Perry, who is black, and the wrestler's friend pulled out a gun.

Prosecutors say Paz and Perry then plotted to kill the high school senior, whom they lured to a deserted hilltop on the promise of sex with Paz.

"There were times when she would call and tell me that [Gonzalez] was getting on her nerves, when was I going to kill him?" Perry testified. "I told her I was going to shoot him."

Paz's attorney painted Perry as an obsessive, jealous boyfriend who had decided to kill Gonzalez on his own.

Perry pleaded guilty in March to the murder and agreed to testify against Paz in exchange for a sentence of 25 years to life.

kelly-anne.suarez@latimes.com

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