BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — A jury in the 357th state District Court found San Benito resident Jesus Alejandro Rodriguez guilty of capital murder on Friday and was sentenced by the judge to life in prison.
According to court testimony, Rodriguez, 33, was paid by El Ranchito resident Rene Garcia to kidnap, rob and kill AlexVillarreal. Villarreal was a key witness scheduled to testify against Garcia who was indicted in 2004 for killing a man at a Harlingen night club.
Villarreal’s body was found in a San Benito resaca in March 2005.
Visiting Judge Manuel Banales told Rodriguez upon imposing his sentence that he had committed a “horrendous and horrific crime” in killing a witness.
“That act is an attack on our judicial system,” Judge Banales said. “I find in all evidence presented that the jury is correct in its verdict. You (Rodriguez) got what you deserved – a life sentence."
Rodriguez stated to the court after his sentence that he wished to appeal the case. The victim’s mother said an appeal would be a “waste of money.”
“I’m very happy, very relieved and sad at the same time,” said Adriana Villarreal after leaving the courtroom. “I have mixed emotions. I miss my son. I miss his smile and his love.”
Garcia is currently serving 10 years for a drug-related case. Rodriguez is eligible for parole after serving a 30-year sentence.
Assistant District Attorneys Ismael Hinojosa and Gabriela Martinez prosecuted the case. “We are very pleased with the verdict and commend the jury on their service and courage in rendering the verdict,”
Hinojosa said. “This verdict sends a clear message that tampering with witnesses and obstruction of justice will not be tolerated by the citizens of Cameron County.
Rodriguez made us wait eight years to bring him to justice. We will work
diligently to bring to justice everyone else involved in the murders of Alex Villarreal and Juan Ramon Hernandez.”