Tears flowed in the courtroom as the last two suspects were convicted in the 2015 murders of Robert Mata and Marcelino Guerra, who were ambushed and shot as they were mending a fence.
Richard J. Perez and Michael Castro were sentenced to 60 years each in a Texas prison for their role in the 2015 murders and Sutherland’s robbery.
The victims' and defendants' families were in the court as visiting Judge Bob Perkins sentenced the men to prison.
“In the last 34 months, we have gone through this. It has literally drained us, physically and emotionally,” said Dalia Mata, Robert Mata's widow. “Richard (Perez), however, big or small your participation in the gruesome, coldblooded murders and the time you serve in a state penitentiary, whether its 10 or 20 years, it will never, never justify what you have done...you also had the chance to stop it when you heard that first shot fired at my husband, Robert. You should've reacted and tried to stop Mr. (Andres) Garza...If you would've reacted differently maybe my husband and Mr. (Marcelino) Guerra would still be alive.”
On Monday, Perez and Castro plead guilty to two counts of murder and one count of aggravated robbery, both first degree felonies.
Judge Perkins implemented the State's recommendation of 20 years per murder charge and 20 years for the aggravated robbery charge to run concurrent. Judge Perkins gave the men credit for time served in jail. Andres Garza, a third assailant, was convicted and sentenced in September 2017 for a total of 125 years in prison for his connection in the murders and robbery.
On Oct. 21, 2015, Castro, Perez and Garza robbed Sutherland’s. The men walked into the business with masks and guns drawn while a juvenile accomplice held a lady outside the business at gunpoint.
Garza was recognized by a Sutherland's employee and arrested the same day of the incident. Through the Alice Police Department’s investigation, Castro and Perez were charged with the murders and aggravated robbery.
The three men's murder charges stem from the double homicide that occurred on Oct. 20, 2015. The men shot Guerra and Mata on County Road 464 near Green Acres. Castro, Perez and Garza held the men at gun point in order to steal their gray 2001 Chevrolet Silverado that was supposed to be used in Sutherland’s robbery.
Investigators found the stolen vehicle engulfed in flames the day after the murders on County Road 148, near San Diego, Texas.
Perez and Castro were taken to the Jim Wells County jail where they will remain until they are transferred to a Texas prison.
“It doesn't stop here for us. We have to continue to live with this...,” said Marcelino Guerra's daughter, Marci Reyna.
“We have to continue to live with this...No amount of time you serve is justice...I don't know what else to say but I hope your demons haunt you and the other two, I really do....There's two less monsters on the street.”