Convicted killer sentenced in 2008 murder of Chevy Chase couple

By Keith L. Alexander
Friday, March 11, 2011; 6:31 PM

A man convicted in the 2008 slaying of a Northwest Washington couple was sentenced on Friday to 137 years in prison, becoming the first of three killers to receive his punishment in the high-profile crime.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Michael L. Rankin imposed the sentence on Jose H. Portillo, 22. Portillo was convicted of 15 charges, including first-degree felony murder and second-degree murder after he and two friends brutalized and then beat and stabbed psychiatrist Michael Spevak, 68, and his wife, Virginia, 67, a retired teacher, during a burglary of their home in the 5300 block of Belt Road NW in Chevy Chase.

It was a crime that shocked the quiet, Upper Northwest Washington neighborhood where the Spevaks were known as community activists who often took in foster children. They regularly hosted block parties at their home.

On Nov. 20, 2008, Portillo, along with Peiro Fuentes Hernandez, 23, and Angela Hernandez, 22, pushed their way into the Spevaks' home, intending to burglarize it. Once inside, according to testimony during the trial, Portillo, armed with a .38-caliber gun, and Angela Hernandez ordered Virginia Spevak to find items for them to steal.

They grabbed cameras, computers, computer disks, cash and other items. Peiro Hernandez, who testified for the prosecution at Portillo's trial, said he yanked two telephone cords out of the wall and handed them to Portillo, who tied Michael Spevak's hands behind his back and sat him on a sofa. Just feet away from her husband, Virginia Spevak's hands were tied to her ankle and a gag put over her mouth. They were then beaten and stabbed.

Hernandez pleaded guilty in January 2009 to second-degree murder while armed. Angela Hernandez, no relation, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder while armed and burglary. Prosecutors said Angela Hernandez knew the Spevaks because she had been childhood friends with one of their former foster children.

Both will be sentenced in May.

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