Death penalty out in slaying—-Lower Valley couple charged in death of
A Lower Valley woman and her common-law husband will not face the death
penalty if convicted in the death of the woman's 3-year-old daughter.
Life imprisonment without parole and a $10,000 fine is the maximum
punishment Yara Belen Perez, 26, and Francisco Javier Castaeda, 25, may
receive if they're convicted in the Nov. 19 slaying of Jacqueline
The toddler's battered body was found by police in a plastic storage bin
in the trunk of the family car parked outside the couple's Lower Valley
District Attorney Jaime Esparza said he decided against seeking the death
penalty after a thorough review of the case.
"When you look at their criminal history and you look at the facts and
circumstances of the case itself, I just don't think the death penalty is
appropriate in this case," he said.
An autopsy revealed that Jacqueline suffered more than 70 bruises, most of
them to the torso, and that she bled to death when her small intestine
The cases against Perez and Castaeda are pending in 168th District Court.
Abigail Lujan, Castaeda's sister, said her family supported Esparza's
"We're very happy that the DA is not seeking the death penalty. First of
all because he's (Castaeda) innocent of the murder. He didn't commit the
murder," Lujan said, adding that her brother would eventually be
Marco Gonzalez, Jacqueline's biological father, couldn't be reached for
comment Wednesday. He has said he wanted the defendants to face the death
Police found Jacqueline's body after a relative of the child called 911
and asked police to check on Jacqueline at the toddler's home.
According to the complaint affidavits against Perez and Castaeda, when
police arrived at the apartment at 625 S. Yarbrough, the defendants
"denied to officers and medics as to having a second child in their care."
At the time police were inquiring about Jacqueline, county records showed
Perez was the mother of two girls, ages 3 and 5. Police continued to check
the apartment complex for the toddler and eventually found Jacqueline's
body in the trunk of Perez's sedan.
After Perez's arrest, her other daughter was placed in foster care by
Child Protective Services. Officials have said she is staying with
(source: El Paso Times)