April 16, 2014

 

 

Shortly after 7 pm CDT, on April 16, 2014, Jose Luis Villegas, Jr. was executed at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Jose was 39 years of age. He celebrated his final birthday on April 14, just two days prior to his execution. Jose was executed for murdering his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Erida Perez Salazar; Erida’s son, 3-year-old Jacob Salazar; and Erida’s mother, 51-year-old Alma Perez.  The murders occurred in Nueces County, Texas.  Jose spent the last 12 years of his life on Texas’ death row.

Jose did not have an easy childhood.  His mother died a prolonged and painful death from scleroderma.  She had a total of 18 amputations before her death.  Jose’s father was an alcoholic and abusive to his children.  At least two family members had concerns over Jose’s mental health as a child.  Later, Jose would be identified as having intermittent, explosive, post-traumatic stress, dissociative, and major depressive disorders.  Additionally, Jose was addicted to cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol.  Jose dropped out of school after the ninth grade and worked as a cook, dishwasher, and laborer prior to being arrested.

Around 5:00 am, on January 22, 2001, Jose Villegas and Erida Perez Salazar used approximately $200 of cocaine at Erida's house.  When Alma Perez arrived at the house after taking her granddaughter to school, she discovered Villegas in the house.  She had previously warned Erida to not let him into the house.  Alma ordered Villegas to leave the house.  Villegas grabbed a knife and stabbed Alma 35 times.  He then went into the bedroom and stabbed Erida 32 times and Jacob 19 times.  Villegas stole Erida’s vehicle and a television, which he sold for more cocaine.

Alma’s husband, Lionicio Perez returned to the home around 9:15 am, after being released early from jury duty, and found the bodies of Alma, Erida, and Jacob, all bruised and lying in pools of blood.  Lionicio ran to a neighbor’s house and called the police.  The neighbor told police that she had seen Villegas leaving the Perez’s house around 8:45 am.

Around 9:30 am, police spotted Villegas in Erida’s vehicle.  Villegas led police on a high speed chase and foot pursuit before they finally caught him.  Found in his possession was three baggies of cocaine.  Villegas confessed to the murders after being arrested and informed of his rights.  Villegas also claimed he was going to use the cocaine to commit suicide by overdosing, but fled when he saw police at the house.

Jose Villegas was found guilty by a jury, who deliberated less than 20 minutes, on May 16, 2002.  During sentencing, it was revealed that this was not Villegas’s first encounter with the police.  His other crimes include numerous assaults against family members, terroristic threats, a burglary and a shoplifting charge, and one incident of indecency with the daughter of a woman he was accused of punching in the face.  Additionally, Villegas had spent 200 days in jail and four years on probation, of which he had problems following the rules and of which he was on at the time of the murders.

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Alma, Erida, and Jacob.  Please pray for strength for the family of Jose Villegas.

 

 

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