Jose Simental, 21, of Lubbock pleaded guilty on Thursday to tampering with evidence in the Mark Ysasaga murder case. He agreed to seven years in prison.
In exchange for his plea, the murder charge was dropped.
Ysasaga went missing at the age of 15 in the summer of 2012. Until May of 2015 when Simental was charged, Ysasaga’s case was classified as a missing person.
The search for Ysasaga became a community-wide effort for nearly three years.
Police made a break in the case in early 2015 by finding blood under the floorboards of a home in the 3100 block of 27th Street.
In June of 2015, police found Ysasaga’s body in a remote area near 122nd Street and Highway 87.
On the same day that the body was recovered, police paid Christian Castro, 21, $10,000 of Crime Line as demonstrated by a combination of confidential sources, public records and social media posts. Castro was roommates at the home on 27th Steet with Simental at the time of Ysasaga’s disappearance.
Castro was never charged with anything related to the death of Ysasaga even though he led police to the body. Right after the body was found, unrelated charges of kidnapping and aggravated robbery were dismissed. Castro has been re-arrested for domestic violence and threatening the wife of a Lubbock Police Officer.
After the sentencing Ysasaga’s mom, Anna Ysasaga, was allowed to make a victim impact statement.
“Three long years we searched to find him day and night,” she said. “Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children no matter what.”
“We are heartbroken,” Anna said. “Words cannot express the pain and anguish.”
EverythingLubbock.com has two reporters and a photojournalist at the courthouse. One of their questions to prosecutors will be why the murder charge was dropped.
Check back for updates.