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Man found guilty of murder in 2005 stabbing of his girlfriend

A 35-year-old Phoenix man who fatally stabbed his girlfriend along Interstate 5 in May 2005 has been found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Tim Gerking found Jose Perez-Silva guilty this morning at the close of a bench trial that started last week.

Perez-Silva admitted to stabbing and slashing his long-time girlfriend Ana Berthan Meraz and leaving her bleeding on the side of the freeway with multiple wounds that would prove fatal.

His defense team said that the two had a longstanding relationship while she was married to someone else, but when her divorce was final and Perez-Silva hoped they would be free to marry, she began to pull away. When he professed his love to her in the early morning hours of May 3, 2005, as the two drove to work together, she rejected him and he snapped.

His defense team argued that Perez-Silva's extreme emotional disturbance and medical problems — including depression and trichinosis, an infestation of parasites found in pork that have formed cysts in the frontal lobe of his brain — left him without the intent to murder. His attorneys said he should be found guilty only of manslaughter.

Gerking sentenced Perez-Silva to life in prison, ruling that he must spend at least 25 years behind bars. He will get credit for time served since his arrest near Puerto Vallarta in late May 2009.