A Winnipeg man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for killing his niece after she refused his demands to have sex.
Mario Valdez, 39, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the 2010 slaying of 23-year-old Catherine Gastador. She was found strangled and stabbed inside her Wolseley condo.
Valdez had been secretly dating Gastador just prior to the homicide, court was told. The relationship was filled with problems and included Gastador obtaining a restraining order against Valdez, only to withdraw it days later.
On the night of the killing, Valdez had been out drinking with friends when he sent Gastador a series of sexually-explicit texts. She refused his demands, ending off her final note to him by calling him a "loser."
Valdez then went to her apartment suite – he lived in the same building, two floors down – and killed Gastador before launching a detailed plan to cover up his involvement, court was told.
Valdez sent further text messages to Gastador after she was dead, telling her he was at his other residence across the city. Crown attorney Sheila Leinburd said this was a clear attempt by Valdez to establish an alibi.
Police ultimately broke the case open by tracing Valdez’s movements through cell tower information, which showed he couldn’t have been where he claimed to be at the time of the killing.
Valdez wasn’t done, however. He also got his 14-year-old son and a nephew to lie to police about his whereabouts, then had them moved to Vancouver so they wouldn’t appear in court to testify against him at his preliminary hearing. Valdez was also overheard on intercepted jailhouse phone calls urging them to stay silent so the Crown would have to walk away from its case.
Valdez pleaded guilty Monday to a further charge of obstruction of justice and was given three years for that, in addition to 10 years for the manslaughter. Crown and defence lawyers made a joint-recommendation on sentence.
Valdez is the brother of Gastador’s adoptive mother, and his relationship with her came as a shock to family members, court was told.