23-year sentence for 2015 double homicide

A 33-year-old Edinburg resident admitted to his role in what the state has called the “horrific, brutal and excessively violent destruction of two human beings.”

Carlos Vicente Palacios entered guilty pleas Tuesday to two counts of murder for the death of two men whose bodies were found in a burning car along a canal near Delta Lake in May 2015.

In exchange for the pleas, the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss a charge of capital murder of multiple persons.

After admitting guilt, state District Judge Marla Cuellar sentenced Palacios to 23 years in prison.

The trial for Palacios’ co-defendant, 27-year-old Pharr resident Hector Javier Rodriguez Alvarado, revealed that Palacios was one of two trigger men who shot and killed Jose Luis Salinas Torres, 23, and Lazaro Alejandro Martinez Esparza, 26, on May 1, 2015, during a drug trial.

The other shooter, Edinburg resident Edwin Adrian Salinas, 26, was longtime friends with Esparza, who was a drug trafficker. Salinas also reached a plea deal with the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office and was sentenced to 45 years in prison on two counts of murder. Like Palacios, in exchange for the murder pleas, authorities agreed to dismiss a charge of capital murder of multiple persons.

After Alvarado’s arrest, the man told investigators he witnessed Palacios bash Esparza’s face with the butt of a gun before Salinas and Palacios turned their guns on him, threatening his family if he said anything about the murders, according to newspaper archives.

Both victims were shot in the back and Alvarado, who is serving life in prison, told authorities he witnessed Palacios and Salinas, both of whom avoided a life sentence, set the car on fire.