A Dulzura man was sentenced March 14 to three consecutive life terms in state prison for poisoning his wife, who is a former Campo Elementary School teacher.
Race Remington Uto, 28, won’t be eligible for parole until after he finishes a minimum of 21 years, said Deputy District Attorney Paul Reizen.
Uto pleaded guilty to three counts of pre-meditated attempted murder of his wife, Brigida McInvale, now 29, who almost died.
McInvale told El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador about the shock of learning that her husband had put thallium in her food at least three times.
“I wanted to believe I knew the man I married three years before,” said McInvale.
She said she had “months of unexplained symptoms” that included numbness in her arms and legs, weight loss, fatigue, vomiting, dizziness and hair loss in 2017. “It was painful to walk,” she added.
During this time, McInvale said her husband took care of her and prepared her food – all the while knowing he was the cause.
“How selfish, how cruel, because you were having an affair and wanted to get rid of your wife,” said Amador to Uto sternly.
“How cold, how callous, how vicious and, frankly, how inhumane that was,” said Amador.
Thallium was used as a rat poison but was banned from sale in the U.S. 40 years ago. Uto purchased it over the internet three times, said Reizen.
The prosecutor said investigators found Uto had researched thallium online on his phone.
“How did you decide the only way to dissolve a marriage is by killing your wife?” asked McInvale to her former husband, who was handcuffed and dressed in jail clothes. He said nothing in court.
“I cared for you, loved you,” said McInvale, adding that she recalled him telling her that her lack of cooking skills was the reason she was sick.
She said she recalled Uto discouraging her from giving a portion of her breakfast to their 2-year-old son, saying he could choke on it, which she found as an odd thing to say.
“How could you, a father, do this to the mother of your son?” asked McInvale.
His attorney, Daniel Cohen, said his client pleaded guilty “because it was the right thing to do” and he did not want to put his ex-wife through a trial.
“He did accept responsibility at an early stage,” said Cohen.
Uto was injured while in the Navy and he used an electronic implant device to ease his pain, his attorney said. Cohen said Uto believed his pain “clouded his judgement.”
Amador gave him credit for 403 days spent in jail and fined him $10,364. Amador also ordered Uto to pay $6,735 in restitution.
“This person should never be out of prison,” said Reizen.
Man convicted of two attempted murders
A jury convicted a man March 13 of trying to kill two women in East County whom he did not know.
Guilty verdicts on all counts were returned against Patrick Christian Douglas, 52, for the bizarre attacks on Nov. 7, 2017 to Shawntey Palmer and Dina Hammond that occurred minutes apart.
Palmer was stabbed 13 times while sitting with Douglas in his car in an El Cajon parking lot around 3 a.m. after he had picked her up on El Cajon Boulevard.
Hammond was a Frito-Lay delivery person and was stabbed as she was taking food items to the 7-Eleven store at 4610 Avocado Boulevard in La Mesa at 3:06 a.m.
Deputy District Attorney Jeff Lazar said Douglas faces 97 years to life because his prior felony convictions for assault, robbery and burglary were found to be valid.
El Cajon Superior Court Judge Herbert Exarhos set sentencing for April 12. The jury deliberated four hours before also convicting Douglas of two assault counts, and evading police officers with reckless driving during a chase to Dulzura.
Jurors also convicted Douglas of assault on a deputy sheriff in which he drove his car at him, said Lazar. Douglas remains in jail without bail.