2019-03-13 / Front Page

Tijerina-Sandoval gets added 30-year sentence

BY ALLEN ESSEX
Staff Writer

A man already sentenced to death for the 2014 killing of offduty Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr. pleaded guilty to two additional aggravated robbery charges.

Gustavo Tijerina-Sandoval was sentenced last week to 30 years on the two charges in 197th state District Court by retiring Judge Migdalia Lopez. The new sentence will run concurrently with his death sentence,

Because he pleaded guilty, one count of aggravated robbery and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity were dismissed, as well as two other indictments charging him with aggravated robbery.

During trials of Tijerina- Sandoval and co-defendant Ismael Hernandez-Vallejo, jurors learned the two men were attempting to steal a 4x4 pickup truck that Vega and his family had with them while fishing near Santa Monica. The two men had driven to the rural location in an allegedly stolen Ford Expedition.

Hernandez-Vallejo was sentenced to 50 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to murder and capital murder in January.

During the 2014 incident, after the two men began firing at the family with handguns, Vega returned fire with an assault-style rifle they were using for target practice in the remote area.

Vega was killed and his father, Javier Vega, Sr., was wounded by gunfire.

The two men were attempting to steal the vehicle because Tijerina-Sandoval had lost an auto engine that belonged to someone allegedly connected with a Mexican drug cartel.

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