Paperwork mix-up temporarily removes convicted murderer of Valley border agent from death row

1 year 3 months 3 weeks ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 January 17, 2020 8:55 PM January 17, 2020 in News - Local

WESLACO – A man sentenced to death for murdering an off-duty Border Patrol agent wasn’t placed on death row because of a paperwork mix-up, according to The Huntsville Item.

The Item — a newspaper based in Huntsville, Texas, that frequently reports on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which is responsible for the state prison system — reported the mix-up on Friday.

According to the newspaper, a paperwork mix-up sent Gustavo Tijerina-Sandoval, who was sentenced to death for his role in the murder of off-duty Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr., to the O.B. Ellis Unit in Huntsville last month.

Tijerina-Sandoval and another man, Ismael Hernandez Vallejo, attacked Vega and his family while they were fishing near Santa Monica in 2014.

Hernandez Vallejo pleaded guilty and received a 50-year sentence. Tijerina-Sandoval was sentenced to death.

When the state Department of Criminal Justice discovered the mistake on Wednesday, he was transferred to death row.

“According to TDCJ communications director Jeremy Desel, the agency received Tijerina-Sandoval from Cameron County on October 19, 2019,” the Item reported Friday. “According to TDCJ officials, the paperwork from Cameron County only mentioned three counts of aggravated robbery with a 30 year sentence. The capital murder charge was not included.”

CHANNEL 5 NEWS contacted the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office about the paperwork mix-up on Friday. Victoria Cisneros from the DA’s office said the paperwork they produced was properly submitted, but mentioned the case belonged to Willacy County.

Willacy County officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

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