After hearing his parents violently fight and hiding his two younger siblings in the basement, the couple's oldest son hid behind a couch on the main floor of his family's Independence home.
He watched as his father came down the stairs to retrieve a knife to fatally stab his mother, he testified in Jackson County Circuit Court this week.
Prosecutors on Thursday used the boy's dramatic testimony to convince jurors that Vicente Roldan-Marron deliberately murdered his wife, Yadira Gomez, on Jan. 30. The knife was one of four he used to stab her 13 times, they said.
A jury quickly agreed, finding Roldan-Marron guilty of first-degree murder early Thursday afternoon.
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On that January night, after the couple's three children believed their mother was dead, they drew pictures and wrote letters to say goodbye to their mom, the 9-year-old testified.
Roldan-Marron was arrested after his son told his teacher about the incident at school the next day. He and his siblings had spent the night before in the basement sleeping in shifts before waking up their dad to drive them to school that morning.
The children received an outpouring of community support and have been taken in by Gomez’s grandparents.
Roldan-Marron's defense attorneys did not dispute that he killed Gomez. They argued that the killing was not deliberate but rather done in a moment of passion, asking jurors to convict him of manslaughter.
Public defender Laura O’Sullivan argued that Gomez was having an affair and that the killing was motivated by Roldan-Marron’s anger at his wife.
The couple's church pastor held a counseling meeting with them and the man Gomez was seeing to convince the man and Gomez to stop seeing each other.
The next day, Roldan-Marron killed Gomez, and O'Sullivan told jurors that some blamed the killing on the meeting.
“This case is all about passion,” she said.
But Jackson County assistant prosecutors Hallie Williams and Michael Hunt told jurors in closing arguments that Roldan-Marron's actions — as described in part by his son — showed the cool deliberation of murder. He first stabbed Gomez in the kitchen and then took her upstairs. He broke two knives while stabbing her, stabbed her with a third, and then, while his son watched behind the couch, went downstairs for a fourth, bigger knife, they said.
“Time is irrelevant when it comes to reflection,” Williams said. “Deliberation needs only be momentary.”
Williams said Gomez was planning to leave Roldan-Marron.
“If he couldn’t have her no one else could,” Williams said.