A Wharton woman admitted Monday that she helped kill a man a decade ago. Meanwhile, another suspect, the man police believe actually stabbed and beat the Houston area teacher to death, remains at large.
Monica Marie Perez, 34, however, isn’t headed to prison despite pleading guilty to manslaughter in Wharton County’s 329th District Court and receiving a 10-year sentence from District Judge Randy Clapp.
Instead, she will now go free as a result of 10 years already served for admitting to burning the clothes of the attackers in the Nov. 22, 2009 killing of Holadio Perales, a Galina Park man, in a Wharton garage.
“Perez as all defendants are only given credit for the amount of time he or she is entitled to. With some exceptions, crimes that occur in the same criminal episode require the sentences to run concurrently,” Wharton County District Attorney Dawn Allison said Monday.
Although Perez is now an admitted killer, the DA’s office has not said what actions the woman took, only that she played a role in the killing.
“Murder requires intention or knowing, Manslaughter is recklessly ... Additionally, under Texas Law, commonly referred to as the Law of Parties, accessories before, during and after an offense are equally criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another,” Allison said.
Perales was discovered stuffed into the cargo area of his Toyota 4-Runner after it had been towed back to Harris County. The vehicle had been found by a Fort Bend County deputy after it had been abandoned on 16311 Huerta Road, just outside Needville.
Perales wasn’t reported missing from Galena Park on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 2009.
Perez and now 33-year-old Michael Moreno of Wharton were two of three people initially identified as suspects in the case. They were arrested in December 2009 as they returned to the United States from Mexico across the International Bridge in Brownsville.
A third suspect, Ramon Yanez Vega, now 31, fled to Mexico where it’s believed he remains.
“He is the person who we believed did it,” Allison said during an earlier interview, adding Monday, “Since there is still a criminal case pending related to this offense, I cannot discuss any of the facts or evidence that is not considered public records.”
Perez had just been released from prison for tampering with evidence when arrested on the murder charge.
Moreno and Perez were indicted in February 2010, both for hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence. Perez faced additional charges of tampering with a corpse and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Both were accused of altering, destroying or concealing clothing which the police could use as evidence in the case and using the victim’s credit card while Perez was believed to have driven Perales’ SUV to Needville while the dead man laid in the back of it.
Moreno pleaded no contest to the hindering charge and was convicted in March 2010 and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Perez went to prison in June 2010 after pleading guilty to tampering. Two months later, the Wharton County Grand Jury indicted Perez on one count of capital murder and a one count of murder.