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September 2, 2014

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Man who shot ex-wife at Gold Spike gets 40 years

Mauricio Solano, whose ex had their baby in her arms, eligible for parole in 16 years

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

Mauricio Solano appears Sept. 1 in District Court before Judge Michael P. Villani. His sentencing was scheduled for that day, but postponed. He was sentenced today to 40 years for shooting his ex-wife in the head in the parking lot of the Gold Spike while she held their baby daughter on Nov. 17, 2008.

Mauricio Solano sentencing

Mauricio Solano appears Sept. 1 in District Court before Judge Michael P. Villani. His sentencing was scheduled for that day, but postponed. He was sentenced today to 40 years for shooting his ex-wife in the head in the parking lot of the Gold Spike while she held their baby daughter on Nov. 17, 2008. Launch slideshow »
Mauricio Ernesto Solano-Mejia

Mauricio Ernesto Solano-Mejia

Yeni Osorio knew her ex-husband had a violent temper. She said he beat her many times during their marriage, even when she was pregnant with their daughter.

But, Osorio said, she never expected he would be capable of trying to kill her.

Then, on Nov. 17, 2008, Mauricio Solano put a stolen Beretta .22-caliber pistol to his ex-wife’s head while she held their 18-month-old daughter.

“I held on to my daughter and screamed, ‘help, help.’ And that was the end for me,” Osorio said today through a Spanish language interpreter.

Osorio, still clutching the infant, fell to the ground, witnesses told police. Bystanders took the baby while Osorio’s boyfriend grappled with Solano to keep him from shooting again.

Osorio wiped away tears as she told the story today in Clark County District Court.

Following her account, Judge Michael Villani sentenced Solano to 40 years in prison for the attempted murder of his ex-wife. Solano will be eligible for parole in 16 years.

Solano, 25, pleaded guilty to attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon and one count of child abuse.

Prosecutor Jay Raman called the incident a “grizzly homicide, heinous, violent and destructive … but for a miracle, the victim refused to die.”

Osorio spent about three months in the hospital, forced to wear a halo to protect her neck, Raman said.

The bullet went through her left cheek and lodged in her spine, causing nerve damage, he said.

Osorio, 25, said she has limited use of her left hand and left foot, lost most of her hearing in her left ear and suffers neck pain. Even yawning causes severe pain in her jaw, she said.

Solano, speaking through an interpreter, apologized and expressed relief that Osorio didn’t die.

“I thank God that she is alive,” he said. “Hopefully, one day she can forgive my act.”

Joel Mann, Solano’s lawyer, said his client had no criminal record nor any documented history of physical violence. Solano, an El Salvador native, had been a model citizen since he came to Nevada more than eight years ago, Mann said.

Solano suffered from clinical depression and intended to turn the gun on himself that day because he learned he might not have been the baby’s father, Mann said.

“Mr. Solano loves his daughter. There is no doubt about that,” Mann said. “The fact that he learned that he was being used and learned for the first time that his daughter may not actually be his, (he) became devastated.”

In handing Solano the maximum sentenced allowed, Villani said the victim has been given a life sentence of physical misery.

“I think you would agree that those emotional issues pale in comparison to what your ex-wife is going through today,” he told Solano.

Osorio and Solano met in the parking lot of the Gold Spike Hotel to exchange their child as they had done four times before. The couple had been divorced for about four weeks, Raman said.

Solano tried to get his ex-wife to look at baby clothes he had in his car but she refused, she said.

At that point, he became angry and allegedly told her “if you want to meet the devil, your time has come,” she said.

Osorio also said Solano previously threatened to cut off her head and kill her family. She said she's afraid that he might follow through on those threats.

“I would like justice to be done because I don’t want to live my whole life in fear,” she said. “After what he’s done, I do believe he is capable of it.”

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