An Oceanside man who strangled the mother of his children in front of their toddler was sentenced Wednesday to 26 years to life in prison.
Melissa Contreras, 22, a young mother of three was found dead inside a car in Oceanside in December 2016.
Uriel Leon, 26, was convicted of her murder in June. He was the father of two of Contreras’ three children, including their 2-year-old son. Prosecutors say the toddler witnessed the murder.
Friends and neighbors told NBC 7 the couple had a rocky and troubled relationship for about 10 years.
Oceanside police said surveillance video showed Contreras pulling up in front of Leon’s home near West Redondo and Luna drives at about 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 26, 2016.
The video shows Leon approaching with their toddler son while Contreras remained sitting in the driver’s seat of her car, where she was found dead three hours later.
Prosecutors said Leon got in the seat directly behind the young mother and strangled her.
A neighbor reported seeing the body and called police. Police found Leon later that night and arrested him on suspicion of murder.
A judge sentenced Leon to 26 years to life in prison in Superior Court in Vista on Wednesday.