A Texas man who pleaded guilty to murder in the killing of his girlfriend on her birthday is going to prison.
Joshua Garcia of San Antonio was sentenced Wednesday — his 23rd birthday — to 35 years in prison in the death of Erin Castro, according to the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.
In September 2018, the couple went out to celebrate Erin’s 19th birthday and they began arguing, authorities say. Castro’s mom, Rena Castro, said she received frightening texts and phone calls from her daughter as the night progressed.
“Get out of the car and I will pick you up,” she recalled telling her daughter.
But Erin didn’t know where Garcia had driven her, Rene Castro wrote on the website #JustceForErin, which she launched after he daughter’s killing.
“As I listened on the other end of the line, with my keys in hand — I was out the front door with nowhere to go!” the mother said. “Any parent‘s worst nightmare. I heard my daughter’s horrible screams on the other end of the line.”
It was the last time Erin’s mother heard her alive.
Police say she was stabbed and run over multiple times with the car, leading to her death, McClatchy News previously reported.
“I want to know if my baby cried out for me, if she suffered,” Rena Castro said in victim impact statement, the San Antonio Express-News reported Wednesday. “Why did you leave her there? She loved you so much, she would have done anything for you and you just left her out there like an animal.”
Erin and Garcia had troubles before in their “on-again, off-again” relationship. At the time of Erin’s death, Garcia was on probation on an aggravated assault charge from hitting her with a vehicle in 2016, authorities say.
“At any age, this type of violent abuse is more (than) anyone knows how to, or should have to, deal with and process,” Erin’s mom said. “She didn’t know what to do and tried to cover for him. I did not let her, I tried to fight for my daughter. I immediately called the police and pressed charges against him.”
But Erin’s mom said he “manipulated his way” back into her daughter’s life,
“Erin was full of compassion and she thought if she showed someone enough love and forgiveness, they would change,” Rena Castro said.
Garcia must serve half his sentence before he’s eligible for parole.
“Erin Castro deserved to celebrate many more birthdays with the people who loved her. While her family, friends and our office tried to keep this defendant away from her, he refused to stay away,” Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said in a statement. “Two young lives forever changed on days their families should be celebrating. Domestic violence changes families and our community must continue working to prevent tragedies like this.”