It sounds more the stuff of a soap opera than reality, but as an El Paso, Texas, courtroom has heard, it was very much the stuff of real life—and death. Samuel Velasco was last Monday convicted on three counts of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country: The first murder was that of Velasco's father-in-law, Francisco Maria Sagredo Villareal, who was murdered in his house in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Oct. 3, 2008. His daughter Cinthia Sagredo Escobedo was murdered in the same city on Nov. 20. Two days later, Ruth Sagredo Escobedo—daughter of Francisco and sister of Cinthia—was murdered while in her sister's funeral procession, reports KDBC. Prosecutors say Velasco arranged to have his wife's relatives killed in order to lure her across the border and to her own death.
Ruth Sagredo didn't attend her father's funeral, per court documents cited by the Washington Post, so her sister was next killed. As for why Velasco wanted Sagredo dead: He was staring at a possible 99-year sentence in connection with a 2005 sex-assault case involving a child. Vice News reports Sagredo was the only witness the prosecution intended to call, as the victim confided in her (the Post specifies the victim was Velasco's 4-year-old stepdaughter). Sagredo had married Velasco in February 2004 but filed for divorce 11 months later, with her stated date of separation as the date the alleged molestation occurred. Sagredo's first husband testified that she was "very adamant" that Velasco should "pay for what he did." The sex-assault case was dismissed in 2009; Velasco now faces mandatory life in federal prison at his Jan. 25 sentencing, per an ICE press release.