CALDWELL -- On Tuesday, two women were sentenced to prison for voluntary manslaughter: Susana Quijano and Nicole Kirtley. KTVB spoke with Quijano and her attorney about female murder suspects and motive.
Quijano admitted to police she'd stabbed her former boyfriend, Santiago Pineda, the day after she did killed him. She ultimately pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, a lesser offense than her initial second degree murder charge.
On Tuesday morning, Judge Juneal Kerrick sentenced Quijano to 25 years in prison, with 12 of those years fixed, meaning she will have to serve those years before possibility of parole.
Quijano is actually one of several women recently accused of murder in Canyon County. Her public defender, Aaron Bazzoli, says he's personally defended multiple female clients accused of murder.
"It just seems very odd in Canyon County. The last four murder cases I've handled are all women. I don't know if it's a trend or coincidence, or..." Bazzoli said. "I don't know. Maybe in a larger population, it doesn't really matter, but it just seems odd in Canyon County. That's what we've had the last few cases on."
While all cases are certainly different and killing is not excusable, Bazzoli says a common thread can sometimes be a past that includes abuse or violence.
"They're all different circumstances but there's a certain pattern that also goes along through them," Bazzoli said.
Quijano and her attorney say she felt threatened by Pineda the night she went to his home, and eventually stabbed him once in the heart with a 12 inch knife.
"He was not going to let me go. When I got the opportunity, I did jump, and I did feel threatened," Quijano told KTVB after her sentencing. She said Pineda had been making gestures of a gun to the head and throat slashing.
She and her attorney say was a history of physical problems between the two. Her attorney says it's a pattern she endured for years, at the hands of different people.
"She's a victim of domestic violence her whole life. It's certainly my opinion that she did not stab him with the intent to kill him, but he died from that stab wound," Bazzoli said.
Prosecutors say Quijano stabbed Pineda because he indicated he was interested in another woman while they talked at his home, not because Quijano was physically threatened. During her sentencing, the judge said she had a hard time believing Quijano was threatened physically, and thought it seemed like Quijano was "hugely, hugely disappointed" that their relationship may not continue.
They say she chose to ignore other alternatives, like yelling for help from Pineda's roommate or simply leaving. "With those alternatives, her choice was to reach into her purse and get what she knew was there: A 12 inch knife."
Quijano apologized to Pineda's family and her own family during court, asked for forgiveness from them, and said she still loves Pineda. During KTVB's conversation with Quijano, she talked about domestic violence and how she thinks other women could benefit from her learning how to better handle perceived threats or violence.
"There's no reason. I'm pretty sure there's other ways it can be directed instead of going to what I did," Quijano said. "Either way, I did what I did and I'm still... I'm not going to say that it's justified because he was doing that. It doesn't give me the right to take his life."
The court would not allow audio or video recording of Pineda's family, but the mother of his children said they have been terribly impacted by Pineda's death. They plan to leave the state and start a new life. At the same time, she said Pineda taught his kids to forgive and not hate, so that is the family's plan.