CLEVELAND — A Cleveland man was found guilty in a church carjacking that killed a 33-year-old woman with her own vehicle as he was trying to steal it from a church on Archwood Avenue in November 2018, according to a release from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.
The jury deliberated for two days and found Michael Preston, 23, guilty of murder, reckless homicide, felonious assault and two counts of aggravated robbery for the death Lesley DeJesus, 33, of Cleveland.
On Nov. 15, 2018, DeJesus and her husband Jesus Cruz-Maldonado were planning their daughter’s Quinceañera at a church on Archwood Avenue that was scheduled to happen later that weekend.
When couple’s daughter noticed Preston and another male inside her parent's vehicle, her parents ran outside to the parking lot, where they confronted the two men.
Maldonado was able to pull one of the males from the passenger seat, who then fled the scene.
DeJesus and her husband were run over by their own vehicle when Preston started the ignition and put the vehicle into reverse, dragging them both through the parking lot before they fell to the ground.
Preston then put the vehicle in drive and accelerated over the victim’s body, police said. He then drove down the street where he abandoned the vehicle.
DeJesus was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband was transported to the hospital for injuries.
DNA evidence found on the gearshift, steering wheel and driver’s side door handle linked Preston to the crime. DNA found on a lighter, brick, screwdriver, and pry tool on scene also matched to Preston.
Preston is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 10 at 9 a.m. He faces life in prison.