Honor Student Sentenced to Life in Slaying of Family
EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ A 16-year-old honor student was convicted of capital murder Friday and sentenced to life in prison in the shotgun slayings of a family of four.
Jesus Soltero, a ninth-grader who played violin in the school band, was convicted of killing his best friend and classmate, Fabian Castorena, 15; Fabian’s 11-year-old sister, Ruby; and the children’s parents, Luz Elena Castorena, 35, and her 36-year-old husband, Raul.
He was certified to stand trial as an adult, but because of his age, the maximum penalty he could receive was a life term.
Family members on both sides of the case declined comment after the verdict, and Soltero showed no emotion.
Soltero’s attorneys indicated they would appeal.
The bodies of the Castorenas were found scattered through their apartment March 8. An autopsy showed they likely were killed March 6, and prosecutor Tom Bernstein said they fell in quick succession.
″This happened so fast this little girl (Ruby) didn’t have time to drop the candy in her hand,″ he said during closing arguments.
″What you have here is a man who went into that house that night and killed four people in cold blood,″ Bernstein said.
Defense attorney Dolph Quijano agreed that the state’s most damaging evidence was a pair of blue and white Nike sneakers whose sole pattern matched bloody footprints found in the apartment. Soltero was wearing them the night police questioned him, and dark stains on the sneakers tested positive for blood.
But the sneakers did not show a fine mist of blood that should have been there had they been worn during the shooting, Quijano said.