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Venecia Amalia DePAULA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Jealousy
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 3, 2009
Date of arrest: August 18, 2009
Date of birth: November 26, 1978
Victim profile: Felipe Perez, 29 (her boyfriend and father of her unborn child)
Method of murder: Shooting (9mm Beretta semiautomatic)
Location: Hillsborough County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on February 24, 2011
photo gallery

Sentenced to life for murder, woman thanks Hillsborough court workers

By Alexandra Zayas -

February 25, 2011

TAMPA Just sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder, Venecia DePaula smiled politely as she was escorted out of the courtroom. She turned to bailiffs and court personnel and addressed them with the soft, sweet voice she'd used all week.

"Thank you very much," she said as her trial ended Thursday.

The same woman had killed the man she said she loved, the father of her unborn child. She stood over him as he slept, held a 9mm Beretta semiautomatic an inch away from his head and pulled the trigger.

There was never a doubt she did it her attorney conceded as much. The trial this week hinged on her state of mind in the early morning hours of Aug. 3, 2009.

Did she plan to kill 29-year-old Felipe Perez?

They were together for a few years and she was six months pregnant. But in his mind, they were no longer a couple. Unable to pay rent on his own, he stayed with DePaula but he had a new girlfriend, a blond he'd met at the gym.

The former couple still traded text messages expressing unresolved drama.

"I'm feeling bad for everything that's happened," Perez wrote to DePaula that July. "Why were you unfaithful to me? I'm not good as a man?"

In a response, DePaula asked him if he felt bad when he was having sex with other women.

She walked into a gun shop the day after that exchange and paid cash for a revolver. Unwilling to wait for approval for that gun, she found another in a newspaper classified ad and paid cash for it the night of Aug. 2.

She killed Perez hours later.

Her attorney, Bryant Camareno, argued she bought the gun to commit suicide. He cited text messages she sent making provisions in case anything happened to her. In opening statements, he had told jurors DePaula was depressed and blacked out when she fired the gun.

But DePaula decided not to take the stand, so jurors did not hear that story from her.

They didn't see any reaction from her when she heard she was guilty of first-degree murder.

There was no reaction, either, when Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles said, "This was a cold and brutal crime. You took a life. Now, the law in Florida requires that you pay with the remainder of your life."

But two other women did cry DePaula's mother, left to raise her daughter's children; and Perez's wife, Jadie Serra, long separated from him but still a friend.

Serra said, "I feel bad for her kids. I feel bad for his kids."

She is haunted by one of the last things her husband told her, days before he died. It's something jurors never heard from prosecutors, kept from using it by laws that govern evidence.

Perez told his wife his ex-girlfriend had told him something:

She was going to kill him.


Tampa woman on trial over killing boyfriend while pregnant

By Alexandra Zayas -

February 23, 2011

TAMPA He was asleep, curled on the couch in his underwear, when the pregnant woman pulled the trigger.

Venecia DePaula, 32, faces life in prison if convicted this week of first-degree murder.

Her attorney admits she shot the man she considered her boyfriend. "She blacked out," Bryant Camareno told jurors Tuesday during opening statements in Hillsborough Circuit Court. "She fired the gun."

But she didn't plan to do it, he said.

Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon insists she did.

"She was hurt. She was jealous. He was slipping away from her," Harmon said.

To judge her state of mind early the morning of Aug. 3, 2009, jurors will learn about her relationship with 29-year-old victim Felipe Perez, a former baseball player with a Baltimore Orioles minor league affiliate a man with more than one woman in his life:

There was his wife, separated but still a friend. She had agreed to remain married on paper so he could bring his son to Florida from the Dominican Republic.

There was his new girlfriend in Sarasota, a woman he'd met at the gym and started dating in the early summer of 2009.

And then there was DePaula, who was with him for a few years and, according to her lawyer, was pregnant with his baby.

Perez, who delivered appliances, lived with DePaula at the Foxcroft Apartments off Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. He told his wife that he and the pregnant woman were no longer a couple.

The pregnant woman seemed to disagree.

One morning a few weeks before Perez died, the phone rang over and over, 20 to 30 times, at his new girlfriend's home. He was there. The two woke up and Perez recognized DePaula's name on the caller ID, Harmon said.

The new girlfriend eventually answered twice, but heard nothing and hung up. Then, the third time, a woman spoke.

"He's my boyfriend," the woman said. "He's not your boyfriend.

"I'm still in love with him. You need to stop seeing him."

At the end of July, DePaula paid cash for a revolver at a gun shop but, by law, had to wait three days to claim it, store employee Miguel Encarnacion testified. When she returned, her approval process wasn't completed.

She wound up buying a gun Aug. 2 from a newspaper classified ad. Seller William Abourjilie Jr., who testified Tuesday, said he showed her how to use it.

Her attorney said she bought the gun to hurt herself. She was despondent, alone.

But she wasn't the one who got hurt.

Perez was out with a friend that night, playing dominoes, talking, dancing. He ended up at a sports bar. He would come and leave DePaula's apartment as he pleased, her attorney said. When he arrived early in the morning, she was lying in bed with her 4-year-old daughter.

"She waited for him to be asleep," prosecutor Harmon alleged. "She waited for him to be helpless. She waited for him to be defenseless.

"And then she took this gun, this 9mm semiautomatic handgun, and she took the muzzle and put it within an inch of his head, and she shot him.

"And she shot to kill."

She got her daughter and began to drive to Palm Beach County, where her family lived, the prosecutor said.

On the way, she spoke to her friend Janet Prieto, who testified in court Tuesday that DePaula told her: "I did something stupid. God is not going to forgive me."

She walked into a police station and uttered words that a community service officer and a corporal recalled for the jury: "I shot my boyfriend" and "I think I killed him."

She gave birth while in jail, her attorney said, and her mother took in DePaula's young daughter and the baby she shared with Perez.

Before her confession, but after she'd shot him, DePaula spoke to someone else Perez's new girlfriend, who had called his phone. The prosecutor told the jury what she said.

DePaula told her he was sleeping, and she told her this:

"You're not his girlfriend. I'm his girlfriend."


Defense: Suspect in Tampa slaying 'blacked out'

By Tom Brennan - The Tampa Tribune

February 22, 2011

There is no question as to who killed Phillipe Perez in August 2009.

His girlfriend, Venecia Depaula, admits to firing a single shot into his head while he slept curled up on the couch.

Jurors must decide whether the shooting was premeditated, a decision that will determine whether Depaula spends the rest of her life in prison.

In his opening statement today, Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon told jurors Depaula, 32, acted in a pique of jealousy because she found out Perez was married and was seeing another woman.

"It was because Mr. Perez was slipping away from her, because of her hurt and because of her jealousy," Harmon said. "When he was at her mercy, she showed him none."

But defense attorney Bryant Camareno said Depaula was depressed because she had left her family in Palm Beach County to be with Perez and was pregnant with his child when she found out about the other women.

"She blacked out. She fired the gun," Camareno told jurors. "She had no idea what she had just done."

Deputies found Perez's body in the couple's apartment at the Foxcroft Apartments, 3817 Tudor Court, on Aug. 3, 2009.

Depaula had called a friend, telling her, "I think I've done something very bad," and saying she had shot Perez. The friend called authorities.

After dropping off her 4-year-old daughter with her mother in Palm Beach County, Depaula turned herself in. She was charged with first-degree murder.

Camareno said his client never tried to hide what she had done.

But Harmon said Depaula tried to buy a revolver from a pawnshop days before the shooting. When the background check was delayed, he said, she bought a Beretta automatic through a newspaper ad.

"Nothing was going to stop Ms. Depaula from murdering Phillipe Perez," he said.

Camareno said Depaula bought the gun for another reason.

"She bought the gun to kill herself," he said. "She was alone. She had no one."

The trial is expected to last through the week.



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