A Fresno man was sentenced Wednesday for his role as an accessory in the fatal stabbing of a woman triggered by a dispute over pets.
Thurman Howard Ligons, 31, was sentenced to three years in Fresno County Jail by Judge Gary D. Hoff. He previously pleaded no contest to being an accessory after the killing. Ligons struck a neighbor, Felipe Miranda, of the woman who died in the incident, Mary Lara.
His wife Laquandra Ligons, 27, faces up to 12 years in prison after pleading no contest to manslaughter with the use of a knife, prosecutor Gabriel Brickey said. Her sentencing was delayed until March 25 so she could undergo further psychiatric evaluation. Police said Laquandra Ligons fatally stabbed Lara, 56, on Sept. 18 on the 1300 block of North Eighth Street during an argument over pets.
Fresno police say Lara and Laquandra Ligons argued in the driveway of Lara’s home. Ligons was walking a dog with her two children, and Lara believed the dog posed a threat to her cats, Ramos said.
Ligons stabbed Lara repeatedly before being driven away from the scene by her husband. Neighbors called 911, and emergency medical personnel rushed Lara to Community Regional Medical Center, where she later died. The pair were arrested a few days later.
Thurman Ligons’ lawyer, Peter Pacheco, sought probation or a shorter jail sentence with supervised release because his client sent a letter to the Lara family apologizing.
In seeking a full three-year sentence, Brickey said Thurman Ligons had a key role in the family’s escape because he drove from the scene, stopped at a school parking lot with his family, turned off the vehicle’s lights and waited for the sirens to stop before driving home. After arriving home, he burned his wife’s clothing.
Felipe Miranda, who was struck by Thurman Ligons, said his family moved after the incident, fearful for their safety because of Lara’s death.
“My life and my family’s lives went backwards because we lived a terrible experience,” Miranda wrote in a letter to the judge. “We continue to fear those people who committed their crimes to be released and harm us.”
Thurman Ligons used Wednesday’s hearing to apologize to Miranda and the Lara family, saying he doesn’t know how the situation escalated.
He offered his “deepest condolences to the Lara family.” He said he lost a loved one to violence and understands the family’s anguish.
“There is no turning back the hands of time,” he said. “There’s no way to get past the pain of losing a loved one.”
He added: “I am deeply sorry and God have mercy on us all.”
Hoff said the letter and apology in court showed “insight” and “compassion for the feelings of others.”
The judge said he was unable to grant probation because of Ligons’ prior criminal activity and opted for the three-year sentence.
The couple entered their pleas in Fresno County Superior Court last month, the same day that jury selection was scheduled to begin in their criminal trial.