DALLAS - The Dallas man who killed the mother of his children and dumped her body will spend the rest of his life in prison.
It only took about two hours on Friday for jurors to deliberate and bring back both the verdict and the punishment for Faustino Valdez.
Valdez killed his ex-girlfriend, Marisol Espinosa, in 2015. The young mother from Pleasant Grove disappeared shortly after Christmas and her body was found a few months later under a bridge in southeast Dallas.
Valdez sat without any noticeable emotion when the jury read aloud it’s punishment decision.
Espinoza’s mother, Rosemary, testified that she witnessed Valdez be violent with her daughter on previous occasions. His attorneys say Valdez unintentionally killed Espinoza during a fight and panicked, disposing of her body by dumping it over a bridge.
Rosemary spoke directly to Valdez before he was taken away.
“Maybe one day I will forgive you, but not today. I thank God for what you got,” she said. “You will never get to see my grandkids because they're mine now.”
Jurors heard highly damaging testimony on Thursday. Valdez’ cousin took the stand and said Valdez admitted to killing Espinosa and dumping her body off Interstate 20.
His own mother took the stand and testified that she had no idea he was fleeing to Mexico, leaving behind the two children he shared with Espinosa.
His defense team admitted that he disposed of her body but tried to argue that he didn’t kill her. The defense rested without calling any witnesses Friday morning.
Judge Teresa Hawthorne addressed Valdez with a message of her own and urged him to help others in prison.
“If you want to reach out to these people and share your thoughts and try to help some people inside that institution, maybe God will forgive you if you can help another person not to commit such a heinous crime,” the judge said. “Good luck to you, sir.”
While there were tears in the court room, there was a celebration outside. Friday also marked Rosemary’s birthday. With tears and hugs of joy, she celebrated the moment her daughter's killer is put behind bars for life.
“We got justice for Mari,” she said. “And that's a big birthday present for me.”
Some of Espinosa’s family and friends gathered at the courthouse while jurors were deliberating for an impromptu memorial service. They said they take comfort in knowing that justice has been served.
Valdez was also sentenced to pay a $10,000 fine. His prison sentence begins immediately.
Espinosa's family plans to take her back to Midland for her final resting place.