A note scrawled by a prison guard minutes before her death was the clue that led to her killer, Orange County prosecutors said at the trial of her husband, who is charged with arranging the killing. Elizabeth Begaren scribbled down the license plate number of a car that followed her onto an Anaheim freeway on-ramp in 1998; her husband, Nuzzio Begaren, was driving the family sport utility vehicle, jurors were told Wednesday during opening statements in Superior Court. He pulled over and a gang member got out of the other car and shot her, prosecutors contended.
Police found a torn-up piece of paper in the dirt by the side of the freeway and reassembled it. On it, Elizabeth Begaren had scribbled the words "light blue" and the plate number. That led investigators to a Buick Regal driven by Guillermo Espinoza. Fellow gang member Jose Sandoval will testify that he saw Espinoza shoot her twice, the prosecutor told jurors. Another gang member is set to testify that Begaren's husband was a longtime acquaintance who arranged to have his wife of five months killed and insisted that it should look like a robbery; authorities contend that Nuzzio Begaren, 50, wanted to collect on a $1 million life insurance policy that he took out shortly after their marriage. He could face life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted. (Read more murder stories.)