A 22-year-old man has been sentenced in connection to the shooting death of his 16-year-old girlfriend, according to court records.
Alexander Valenzuela was sentenced to 90 days in the Harris County Jail and six years of deferred adjudication community supervision. He has also been ordered to attend an Intermediate Sanctions Facility for cognitive behavioral treatment for at least 45 days, court records show.
Valenzuela was initially charged with murder in the death of Ciana “Cici” Castro in April 2021. Her mother, Dulce Rodriguez, told reporters she was shocked by what she called a “light” sentence and explained she was so surprised when Judge Jason Luong handed it down on Dec.13 that she had to be quieted. Castro’s father had to be escorted out.
Valenzuela was 20 years old when Castro was killed. It happened at his family’s home on Smoke Hollow Court in northwest Harris County. Investigators said Valenzuela told them it was an accident, but then he did not cooperate.
In October 2022, Valenzuela’s charge was reduced in a plea deal to aggravated assault on a family member, and serious bodily injury. Prior to sentencing, he submitted a number of character reference letters and family photos.
The sentencing happened just two weeks before Luong leaves the bench. He lost his seat in May to prosecutor Andrea Beall in the Democratic Primary runoff. Luong did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
“I am a father of two daughters. I can’t imagine the pain the family is going through,” Juan L. Guerra, Valenzuela’s defense attorney, told reporters. “A tragedy will never feel justified. The Valenzuela family and I pray they find peace.”