DALLAS –– On Wednesday, a Dallas County jury sentence Jose Arreola to 28 years in prison for nearly beating his ex-girlfriend to death.
Investigators say the case is one of the worst they've ever seen. Even after several reconstructive surgeries, Maria Escamilla will never be the same. She offered emotional testimony during the trial and, after the sentencing, spoke with dignity and composure without anger.
"The hardest thing I ever did in my life," she said of the trial. "It would be easier if I had to do it again, but it was a very difficult task."
And she may have to do it again. Arreola has already filed for an appeal, continuing to claim he was acting in self-defense. He told the court that Escamilla drank heavily and attacked him with knives.
"We felt a not guilty verdict was something that was very obtainable,” said Michael Todd, Defense Attorney.
Escamilla seemed unconcerned about the appeal and more focused on becoming an advocate for other victims.
"I'm going to campaign against family, domestic violence and see what we can come up with to help victims in similar situations,” she said.
When asked why she stayed with Arreola for so long, she said it was because of love and the belief that he could change.
"I nearly lost my life. That was a near fatal decision,” Escamilla said.
Todd said prosecutors had offered a plea of 40 to 50 years in prison, which he turned down. The defense worked hard to bring out inconsistencies in the victim's story, which may have swayed the jury. Arreola faced up to 99 years in prison.
He's eligible for parole in 14.
If are a victim of domestic violence and need help or guidance, call Genesis Women's Shelter (214) 946-HELP or visit its website, www.genesisshelter.org.