HOUSTON – A Houston man has been sentenced for the murder of his girlfriend and her mother in 2021, officials say.
47-year-old Lewis Trinidad Nunez was sentenced to 60 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to shooting his girlfriend, Virginia “Jenni” Lillard, 39, and her mother Rita Lillard, 64, on June 20, 2021. He also shot at a Houston police officer who responded to the incident.
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“We know that the most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence, and the police trying to help them, is when the victims try to get out of a bad situation,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “This violent and abusive man killed two women and tried to kill police officers who responded to the scene — he deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars.”
According to reports, Nunez and his girlfriend were arguing because they had broken up but were still living together. During the fight, Jenni Lillard called 911 for help and also called her parents who lived nearby.
Rita and Virginia “Jenni” Lillard (Photo courtesy of Harris County District Attorney’s Office)
Jenni Lillard’s mother and father, David Lillard, were reportedly cooking for a family get-together going on later in the day to celebrate Nunez’s birthday. Rita Lillard’s mother was even said to be making Nunez’s favorite food, ribs.
Officials say Jenni’s parents arrived at the home minutes after Jenni called them and Rita Lillard went to the front door while David Lillard parked the car.
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By the time they arrived, Nunez reportedly had already shot and killed Jenni Lillard. When he saw Rita Lillard, Nunez fatally shot her too.
Reports say a Houston police officer had just arrived at the home and Nunez shot at them as well.
Lewis Trinidad Nunez (Photo courtesy of Harris County District Attorney’s Office)
“(Jenni Lillard) recorded what happened on her phone, and we could hear her pleading for her life for several minutes before she was killed,” said Assistant District Attorney Stephany Abner. “This is an extremely tragic situation in which domestic violence escalated to murder.”
Last week, Nunez pleaded guilty to the murder in exchange for a 60-year sentence. Officials say he has to serve at least 30 years in prison before he is eligible for parole and under the plea agreement, he can’t appeal his conviction or his sentence.
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Abner prosecuted the case with the DA’s Domestic Violence Division and said the plea agreement means that family members will not have to testify or go through a trial or any possible appeals.
After the sentencing, Abner read a victim impact statement from David Lillard, Jenni’s father, and Rita’s husband. Here is an excerpt:
“Rita was my soulmate. Rita was 16 and I was 17 when we met. Married for 47 years. We were looking forward to many more years together you took from us. Rita was making ribs for you that day. I loved her with all my heart and soul. We were so proud of Jenni, our baby girl, and her achievements. Jenni was the twinkle in our eyes, we loved her so much.”
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