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Krystle Villanueva Convicted of Capital Murder

From the Hays County District Attorney’s Office, March 5, 2020

Following a two-week trial, Krystle Concepcion Villanueva, 27, was convicted today for murdering her 5 year-old daughter in 2017.  She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Ms. Villanueva was arrested on January 5, 2017, after police were called to the Kyle, Texas, residence where she lived with her daughter, the child’s father Refugio Hernandez, Jr., and the father’s parents, Eustorgio and Nancy Arellano. Mr. Arellano called 911 to report that Ms. Villanueva had attacked him without warning from behind, stabbing him in the back and head, before he was able to flee the home. After police learned from Mr. Arellano that Ms. Villanueva had remained in the house with her 5 year-old daughter, SWAT teams and crisis negotiators were summoned to the potential hostage situation.

Ms. Villanueva also called 9-1-1 from inside the residence. As police were responding to surround the house, Ms. Villanueva told the 911 operator that she had killed her daughter because “she asked for cereal,” and then stabbed her father-in-law.   When SWAT operators learned that the child may have been injured or killed, they broke into the home, finding Ms. Villanueva nude in the front room, apparently freshly showered.  She was restrained and taken into custody.

As SWAT Team members secured the residence, they located the body of Ms. Villanueva’s child in a bedroom. The child had been stabbed to death and decapitated.

Ms. Villanueva was taken by Hays County Sheriff’s officers to the hospital, where blood testing revealed the presence of alcohol and marijuana in her system.

At trial, Ms. Villanueva’s defense team conceded Ms. Villanueva had killed her daughter and stabbed Mr. Arellano, but urged the jury to find her not guilty by reason of insanity.  Ms. Villanueva claimed that, at the time of the attacks, she had been under the delusional belief that her daughter and her father-in-law had been replaced by clones and had to be killed to bring back her real family members. While evidence indicated that Ms. Villanueva had been treated previously for mental problems, the prosecution pointed out that all such treatment coincided with prior drug abuse, and that the symptoms described by Ms. Villanueva at trial had never been observed in her prior to or after her arrest.  The defendant’s psychiatric expert also conceded on cross-examination that marijuana use can exacerbate existing mental conditions and interfere with treatment.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty on both counts this afternoon, rejecting the insanity defense.  The 428th Judicial District Judge Bill Henry, who presided over the case, sentenced the defendant to life without parole for capital murder of a child under ten, and 20 years in prison for the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Mr. Arellano.

Hays County Criminal District Attorney Wes Mau, who led the prosecution with assistance from Assistant Criminal District Attorney Michael McCarthy, expressed appreciation to Sherriff Gary Cutler and the members of the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and the Hays County SWAT Team (which includes law enforcement officers from the Sheriff’s Department, the San Marcos Police Department, the Kyle Police Department and other agencies). “A case like this leaves an unforgettable mark on everyone involved, especially the child’s family.” he said. “Every law enforcement member who worked on this case will forever be traumatized by what Ms. Villanueva did to her innocent daughter. I commend all the investigators and officers who endured this horror with calm professionalism so that justice could be done.”

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