Man denied parole for murdering wife, fleeing for 16 years

Jose Nava continues to serve his life sentence for murdering his wife in Lindsay over four decades ago

VISALIA – The district attorney’s office has secured a five-year parole denial for Jose Nava, a man who murdered his wife 44 years ago and fled to Mexico.

This makes for Nava’s fourth denial of parole thus far, according to the Tulare County District Attorney’s (TCDA) office. Currently, Nava, 75, is serving out a life sentence at the California State Prison in Solano since his sentencing in 1997. His parole denial was secured by Tulare County prosecutors at a virtual hearing on March 29.

The crime that earned Nava his sentence took place on Sept. 14, 1979. On that day, Nava – who was intoxicated – and his friend drove to the town of Lindsay so Nava could kill his wife, Irene Vasquez. Vasquez had filed for a divorce just a few weeks before the incident.

Nava and his friend drove around looking for Vasquez for two or three hours, but eventually settled on parking and waiting for her near her house. When Vasquez returned home from work with her 13-year-old daughter, Nava exited the vehicle and walked toward the home, eventually making his way in through a back window.

Vasquez’s daughter was talking to a friend at the front door when she heard the victim scream. When she turned to investigate, she witnessed Nava standing in the kitchen and pointing a gun at her mother.

Vasquez’s daughter fled the home to call 911 and heard four rapid gunshots. After contacting the police, she ran back to the home and found the victim covered in blood in the corner of the living room. Nava returned to his friend’s vehicle and admitted to killing his wife, stating he “was not sorry and he would kill her again if she were ever born again,” according to TCDA.

After that, Nava subsequently fled to Ensenada, Mexico, and avoided capture for nearly sixteen years. However, he surrendered himself in April 1996 at the port-of-entry in San Diego.

In the summer of 1997, Nava was convicted of second-degree murder with the use of a firearm and was sentenced to 17 years-to-life in prison.

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