EL PASO, Texas — A man was convicted of murdering his estranged wife’s father and sister in order to lure her to their funerals so hitmen could kill her too in a bizarre murder-for-hire plot to stop her from testifying in a sex assault case against him.
Federal prosecutors said that in 2008, 41-year-old Samuel Velasco Gurrola had conspired with his brother and sister to kill his 69-year-old father-in-law and 40-year-old sister-in-law in Mexico to lure his wife, Ruth Sagredo Escobedo, to their funerals.
Hired gunmen failed to kill Sagredo at her father’s funeral because of a heavy police presence, so Gurrola had them kill her sister so they could try again.
Two days after the sister was killed in Ciudad Juarez, Sagredo was ambushed and murdered while travelling from El Paso to her funeral.
During his trial, it was revealed that Gurrola had hoped the killings would have been ignored among the high number of drug-related killings that has rocked Juarez in recent years, the El Paso Times reported.
At the time Gurrola was under indictment in El Paso for sexually assaulting a child and he wanted to stop his wife from testifying against him in the case, prosecutors said. After his wife’s death, state prosecutors in Texas were forced to drop charges against him.
Gurrola’s brother and sister pleaded guilty before going to trial and both face life in prison for their roles in the slayings.
Gurrola, who was convicted of three counts of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and four counts of conspiracy to cause foreign travel for murder for hire, faces a mandatory life sentence.