2018-06-13 / News

Illegal alien sentenced to death for 2014 Willacy killing of off-duty Border Patrol agent

by Allen Essex

Gustavo Tijerina Sandoval, 34, an illegal alien from Mexico, was formally sentenced to death Tuesday by Judge Migdalia Lopez in 197th state District Court in Brownsville.

Tijerina Sandoval was found guilty of capital murder and the jury recommended a death sentence last week in Lopez’s court, which also has jurisdiction in Willacy County.

He shot Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr. to death while Vega was fishing with family members near Santa Monica. Vega’s father was also wounded in the attack which was aimed at stealing Vega’s vehicle, investigators said.

Tijerina Sandoval, an alleged drug cartel member, and co- defendant Ismael Hernandez Vallejo, were attempting to steal the Vega vehicle because Tijerina Sandoval was under pressure because he had lost a $3,500 auto engine, sheriff ’s officials said.

Hernandez Vallejo will go on trial in August.

The two men were arrested Aug. 4, 2014, near Sebastian.

Although federal authorities at first refused to pay death benefits to Vega’s family, lawmakers interceded and a determination was made that Vega died in the line of duty because he was defending others from a shooting attack by two men.

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