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Actress Convicted of Murdering Husband, One of Island’s Leading TV Stars

May 3, 1986

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Actress Lydia Echevarria has been convicted of arranging the murder in 1983 of Luis Vigoreaux, who was her husband for 25 years and one of the island’s most popular television stars.

Vigoreaux had filed for a divorce, which Ms. Echevarria contested, and he was engaged to marry another woman.

Vigoreaux’s charred body was found by police Jan 17, 1983, in the trunk of his Mercedes Benz in a quiet section of a San Juan suburb. Police said the car was destroyed by fire, the 54-year-old actor had been stabbed repeatedly with an ice pick and an autopsy report showed he was still alive when the car was set ablaze.

By a 9-3 vote Thursday night, a jury of seven men and five women in San Juan Superior Court found Ms. Echevarria guilty of first degree murder for planning the killing. A unanimous verdict is not required for conviction in this U.S. Caribbean commonwealth.

The jury also found Ms. Echevarria guilty of kidnapping Vigoreaux and of two counts of conspiracy, all by votes of 10-2. One conspiracy charge involved a plan to murder Nydia Castillo, an actress-model Vigoreaux intended to marry when the divorce became final.

No attempt was made on Miss Castillo’s life.

David Lopez Watts, accused along with Ms. Echevarria, was aquitted of first degree murder but convicted of conspiracy and kidnapping.

Yamil Galib, attorney for Ms. Echevarria, said the verdicts would be appealed.

Judge Laura Nieves de Van Rhyn said the defendants would be sentenced May 24. The trial began Feb. 11 and the jury deliberated for 10 hours.

Life in prison is mandatory for first degree murder. The maximum sentence for kidnapping is 40 years and for conspiracy 10 years.

Vigoreaux began as a disc jockey at age 16, became a television star and produced one of the island’s most successful variety shows, which was called ″Luis Vigoreaux Presents″ and featured Vigoreaux and his wife. His production company developed financial problems in 1981.

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