A 47-year-old Houston man has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for shooting his girlfriend and her mother, then opening fire on police in 2021, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Friday.
“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,” 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.”
Lewis Trinidad Nunez pleaded guilty last week to fatally shooting his girlfriend, 39-year-old Virginia “Jenni” Lillard, and her mother, 64-year-old Rita Lillard, and then shooting at a Houston police officer who responded to the incident on June 20, 2021.
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. She also called her parents, who lived nearby. Jenni’s mother and father were cooking for a family get-together later that day to celebrate Nunez’s birthday. Rita’s mother was making ribs, which were his favorite.
When Jenni’s parents arrived at their daughter’s home minutes after she called, her mother went to the front door while her father was parking the car. Nunez had already killed Jenni Lillard and when he saw Rita Lillard, Nunez fatally shot her.
Nunez then opened fire on a Houston police officer who had just arrived.
Nunez pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for a sentence of 60 years last week. He has to serve at least 30 years in prison before he will be eligible for parole. Under the terms of the plea agreement, he cannot appeal the conviction or his sentence.
Assistant District Attorney Stephany Abner, who prosecuted the case with the DA’s Domestic Violence Division, said the plea agreement means that family members will not have to testify or go through a trial or any possible appeals.
“(Jenni Lillard) recorded what happened on her phone, and we could hear her pleading for her life for several minutes before she was killed,” Abner said. “This is an extremely tragic situation in which domestic violence escalated to murder.”
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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