Valentine Gonzalez Jr. was convicted and sentenced Dec. 11 for the murder of a 32-year-old woman in 2016.
The defendant pled guilty to capital murder and received a sentence of life without parole rather than risk facing the possibility of the death penalty at trial. The 52-year-old Rosenberg man had fled the country but confessed to the killing when he was apprehended earlier this year.
According to Assistant District Attorney Lorretta Owen, Gonzalez performed yard service for Nancy Dean on Sept. 3, 2016. At some point that evening, Gonzalez attempted to sexually assault Dean in her home. During the attack, he struck her and strangled her with his hands before cutting her throat with a knife. In an effort to destroy the evidence of his crime, Gonzalez then set Dean’s home on fire.
Gonzalez was identified as a suspect that night, but without the evidence to arrest him at that time, he was released by police. He fled to Mexico where he was eventually apprehended in March 2017. Upon his arrest, Gonzalez confessed to killing Dean.
Gonzalez was eligible to receive the death penalty. The state offered a life sentence without parole in lieu of trial, which would have required Dean’s mother to testify. Experiencing severe trauma over the loss of their only child, Dean’s parents approved the plea agreement. A close family friend read the family’s victim impact statement at the sentencing, but Dean’s parents did not attend.
“There’s never an easy answer or comfortable resolution to these cases. And there’s not supposed to be,” Owen said. “Balancing the victims’ need for closure and healing, the defendant’s deserved punishment, and the State’s duty to protect the community; justice was done here.”
Gonzalez was prosecuted in the 268th District Court before Presiding Judge Brady Elliott. Attorney Rodney O’Neil Williams represented the defendant.