Man who strangled mother of his children sentenced to 26 years to life

A man who strangled an Oceanside mother in front of their toddler son as the couple argued over accusations of infidelity was sentenced Wednesday to 26 years to life in prison.

Uriel Leon, 26, was convicted in June of first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Melissa Contreras. He was sentenced in Superior Court in Vista.

Friends said the couple had a troubled, on-and-off relationship for the better part of a decade.

Leon was the father of two of Contreras' three children.

Police said Contreras pulled up in front of the home where Leon was living near West Redondo and Luna drives about 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 26, 2016.

Surveillance video at the home showed Contreras sitting in the driver's seat of her car when Leon approached with their 2-year-old son.

Prosecutors said Leon got in the seat directly behind Contreras and strangled her.

Her body was found three hours later in the car, and police caught up with Leon soon after that.

Authorities said the relationship between Contreras and Leon had soured in the months leading up to the murder and that the couple was no longer together at the time of her death.

Friends said Contreras was happy after moving on from Leon and he didn't like that.

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