Edinburg’s Victor Godinez joins a notorious list of Valley convicts on Death Rowdfwnewsa | February 2, 2024 | 1 | East Texas News , South Texas News
Earlier this week, a new name was entered into the short list of Death Row inmates from the Rio Grande Valley. Victor Alejandro Godinez, the 29-year-old Edinburg man who was convicted of killing 49-year-old Trooper Moises Sanchez after shooting him in the head on April 6, 2019, was sentenced to death.
Godinez became the ninth name on that list after jurors came back with a verdict early Wednesday morning. He joins the other eight Valley Death Row inmates, some of which have been waiting since the 90s.
While they aren’t currently scheduled for execution, there have been 13 Valley residents that have been executed since 1991, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.
Gustavo Tijerina-Sandoval, 40, was sentenced to death on June 8, 2018 after he was found guilty of shooting and killing an off-duty Border Patrol agent.
Tijerina-Sandoval, a Mexican citizen, and Ismael Hernandez-Vallejo, who is serving a 50-year sentence, ambushed off-duty Border Patrol agent Javier Vega Jr., of Kingsville, and his father, Javier Vega Sr., of La Feria, on Aug. 3, 2014 as they fished with the agent’s wife and two of their children near Santa Monica.
The two men ambushed the family during an attempt to steal their vehicle, killing the agent and injuring his father. Survivors identified Tijerina-Sandoval as the triggerman.
Tijerina-Sandoval, who worked as a mechanic, owed $3,500 to someone in Mexico because he lost a vehicle engine. He decided to try to steal a vehicle after he began receiving threats from the individual.
Melissa Elizabeth Lucio’s case has gained international attention since she was found guilty of murdering her young daughter in 2008.
Paramedics responded to Lucio’s apartment in Harlingen on Feb. 17, 2007, where they discovered her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah Alvarez, unresponsive. She wasn’t breathing and was found to have numerous bruises throughout her body, a bite mark and a broken arm. She succumbed to her injuries, and a medical examiner determined that her death was the result of blunt force head trauma.
Lucio, 55, initially told police and EMS personnel that Mariah had fallen down some stairs. However, Lucio told investigators during a videotaped interview that she had caused the bruises on Mariah’s body by spanking Mariah “real hard”.
She was found guilty of murder in 2008, but she has since recanted her admissions of child abuse and remains on Death Row at the Mountainview Unit in Gatesville.
In late 2022, just two days before she was scheduled to be executed, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted her a stay of execution.
‘THE EDINBURG MASSACRE’
The three death row inmates out of Hidalgo County were all involved in what’s been dubbed “The Edinburg Massacre” after suspected members of the Tri-City Bombers gang stormed two rural homes and killed six men on Jan. 5, 2003.
Humberto Garza, 49, Rodolfo Alvarez Medrano, 44, and Juan Raul Navarro-Ramirez, 39, were sentenced to death on March 31, 2005, Sept. 8, 2005 and Dec. 23, 2004, respectively.
They were convicted of killing Jimmy Edward Almendariz, 22; brothers Jerry Eugen Hidalgo, 24, and Ray Hidalgo, 30; half brothers Juan Delgado Jr., 32, and Juan Delgado III, 20; and Ruben Rolando Castillo, 32.
The mother of the Hidalgo brothers, Rosie Gutierrez, was found tied to her bed with an extension cord near Jerry Hidalgo’s body.
On Dec. 3, 2004, during Juan Raul Navarro-Ramirez’s trial, jurors heard Rosie Gutierrez’s 9-1-1 call where she told a dispatcher that masked men entered her home and shot her son, adding that she didn’t see how many men there were or who had been killed, but that they were armed with semiautomatic weapons.
Graciela Delgado, mother of the Delgado brothers, testified that same Friday, stating that she had visited Rosie Gutierrez after the death of their sons and Rosie was acting as if nothing happened. She said she didn’t believe her account of the killings.
It has been 20 years since John Allen Rubio, 43, brutally murdered three young children on March 11, 2003 in Brownsville.
Rubio decapitated 3-year-old Julissa Quesada, 14-month-old John E. Rubio, and 2-month-old Mary Jane Rubio, claiming that he thought they were possessed by the spirit of his dead grandmother.
He was the caretaker for the three children with his common-law wife Angela Camacho, but he only fathered Mary Jane.
Rubio has been on death row at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas since Nov. 24, 2003.
Camacho is serving life in prison.
The house where the killings took place, which was right down the street from the Cameron County Courthouse, has since been torn down and turned into a park called Tres Angeles in memory of the children.
Ruben Gutierrez, 46, was sentenced to death in 1999 for his role in the death of 85-year-old Escolastica Cuellar Harrison.
On September 5, 1998, Gutierrez and two other men broke into her home at a mobile home park she owned in Brownsville with the intent of robbing her. She is estimated to have had over $600,000 in a safe in her home.
Harrison was beaten and stabbed several times in the facial area with a screwdriver. Her body was discovered in a bedroom of her trailer home.
Gutierrez, a Florida native, and the two other men left her home with approximately $56,000.
Jose Alfredo Rivera is the longest serving Death Row inmate from the Rio Grande Valley.
Rivera, a former construction worker, was sentenced to death on June 2, 1994 for sexually assaulting and strangling 3-year-old Luis Daniel Blanco on July 9, 1993 in Brownsville. He was 31-years-old at the time of the murder and has been on Death Row for 29 years.
Blanco was led to Lincoln Park where Rivera sexually assaulted the young boy before strangling him with the elastic from his underwear. His naked body was discovered floating in a pond at the park the following day.
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