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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat




    The husband of a third-grade teacher found shot to death late Thursday and a man alleged to be an accomplice have been arrested and charged with capital murder in an apparent murder-for-hire plot, Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said Sunday.

    Julio Cesar Perez, 39, a pastor of a Pentecostal Assembly church, and Gabriel Apolinar Escalante, 20, a member of Perez’s church, were arraigned Sunday morning by MagistrateLuis Saenz at the Carrizalez-Rucker Detention Center, the sheriff said. No bond was set on either man.

    Lucio said a third person is being sought in an apparent plot to kill Sonia Perez, 39, a former teacher of the year.

    Julio Perez apparently asked Escalante and another person to arrange the killing of his wife, the sheriff said.

    “”He made contact through a mutual friend at his church and they contacted people,”” Lucio said.

    The sheriff said it is not known how much money was paid to the killer or killers and the “”trigger man”” has not been identified.

    “”We’re looking for another individual,”” the sheriff said. “”The investigation is continuing.””

    The sheriff said the motive for the killing is not yet known.

    “”We’re not going to speculate about that,”” he said.

    Sonia Perez was found slumped over the steering wheel of her van and strapped in her seatbelt about 10:49 p.m. Thursday by a deputy constable on Robles Road between Rio Hondo and San Benito, near Mont Meta Memorial Park cemetery, Lucio said.

    She had a gunshot wound to her head and another bullet to her right side and there were signs of a struggle in the van, Lucio said. The van was parked with its headlights on, authorities said.

    Sonia Perez was a third-grade teacher at Rio Hondo Intermediate School. Before that, she taught in the San Benito school district for about 10 years.

    In San Benito, she was a first-grade teacher at Judge Oscar de la Fuente Elementary School, where she was named teacher of the year in 2008-2009.

    Capital murder is punishable by either life in prison or the death penalty.

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