When building a case against Tony Villegas for the murder of Melissa Britt Lewis, Plantation Police investigators alleged that he was an abusive husband who blamed Lewis for his divorce from Debra Villegas, Lewis' best friend.
Yet Debra herself wasn't convinced that made him a killer -- at least not in her early interviews with police. Yes, she claimed that he physically abused her children. She said he beat her 10-year-old son and threw her pregnant daughter across the living room "and bounced her like a basketball."
But that didn't mean he would hurt Melissa, she told the police.
"I am 99.9 percent sure he's not your guy," she said in a sworn, taped interview in
"Why is that?" a detective asked her.
"I wish I could tell you, because I thought about it a hundred times since we talked yesterday," Debra replied. "Just, when you lived with somebody for 17 years you just know them, you know what I mean, and ah, he couldn't do it... He could not, especially somebody like her..."
"When Rob left Melissa, what Rob, her husband, did to her, and humiliated her the way he did, Tony was so angry. He was just like, 'How could somebody do that to Melissa? She's such a good person.' There's no way he would harm her."
Even on the jealousy angle, Debra seemed uncertain of Tony's feelings when speaking to the police.
"Was Tony ever jealous of people taking your time away from him?" a detective asked her in a later taped interview.
"Yeah, oh my God, that's why he hates my older daughter," Debra replied.
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"Debra?" the detective continued, trying to make his point gently. "How close were you with Melissa?"
"Yeah, but he doesn't know that," she said.
To confound things further, Debra completely changed her tune when talking to the Miami Herald about the case two years ago. As Bob Norman reported at the time, Debra told the Herald:
''If a dog showed me attention, he'd be jealous of it. He was jealous of her and in turn killed her because of it.''