EDINBURG — A 26-year-old man received a 45-year prison sentence Tuesday morning for his role in a drug deal that ended with the death of two men found dead in a burning car along a canal near Delta Lake in May 2015.
Edwin Adrian Salinas, of Edinburg, said nothing as state District Judge Marla Cuellar accepted his guilty plea to two counts of murder and handed down the near five-decade sentence.
The state agreed to dismiss one charge of capital murder in exchange for the guilty pleas. Salinas had initially been charged with three counts of capital murder.
Salinas admitted to participating in the May 1, 2015, murder of Jose Luis Salinas Torres, 23, and Lazaro Alejandro Martinez Esparza, 26, who had both been shot in the back.
Testimony during the six-day trial of Salinas’ co-defendant, 27-year-old Pharr resident Hector Javier Rodriguez Alvarado, revealed evidence of what the state called the “horrific, brutal and excessively violent destruction of two human beings.”
That trial stretched over a seven-week period in May and June 2018 because the state failed to turn over certain evidence related to witnesses to the defense and because of major flooding at the time.
According to Alvarado’s confession, Salinas and Carlos Vicente Palacios shot the victims during a drug deal arranged between them and Salinas, a longtime friend, and with Esparza, who was a drug trafficker, testimony during the man’s trial showed.
The man confessed to authorities that he witnessed Palacios bash Esparza’s face with the butt of a gun before Palacios and Salinas turned their guns on him, threatening his family if he said anything about the murders, according to newspaper archives.
Alvarado also admitted to be present when he says Palacios and Salinas set the car on fire.
Unlike Salinas, Alvarado is serving life without parole and is currently located at 2665 Prison Road 1 at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Eastham Unit in Lovelady, a town of about 600 people approximately 100 miles north of Houston.
A jury found Alvarado guilty of three counts of capital murder after approximately four hours of deliberation in late June 2018.
As for Palacios, he has entered not guilty pleas to three counts of capital murder and has a jury trial scheduled for Nov. 4, court records indicate.