LUBBOCK, Texas — A West Texas man will spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole for killing a 15-year-old girl last year, according to the terms of a plea deal.
Humberto Maldonado Salinas Jr. pleaded guilty to capital murder Thursday. The 46-year-old strangled Elizabeth Ennen, his son's girlfriend at the time, after abducting her from a motel in Lubbock where she had been babysitting Salinas' children.
The Lubbock Monterey High School student was last seen Jan. 4, 2011. Her body was discovered about three weeks later. She initially was thought to be a runaway.
Salinas also was charged with aggravated kidnapping but the charge was dropped as part of the plea.
Court documents detailed motel surveillance video that police say showed Salinas chasing Ennen, then grabbing her by the arm and forcing her toward a parking lot where his vehicle was parked.
Footage then shows the vehicle leaving the motel, returning later, then leaving again.
He told investigators he took the teen home from the motel after "she started to act strange," and that he returned to her home after seeing that she'd left her purse in his car, according to the court records.
During Salinas' second visit to Elizabeth's house, her mother became suspicious because the teen was supposed to be with Salinas, the records state. The mother questioned Salinas, then reported Elizabeth missing at 1 a.m. Jan. 5.
Salinas told investigators Elizabeth was "like a daughter" to him.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that at the hearing Thursday that finalized the plea deal some family members told Salinas they wanted him to suffer and would have preferred a trial with the death penalty as possible punishment.
"You can thank DA Matt Powell for your life because I voted to have you laid out on a gurney," Lily Huckabee, Ennen's aunt, told Salinas.
Powell, Lubbock County's district attorney, said he struggled with the decision over whether to take the case to trial or offer Salinas a deal.
Ultimately, Powell told the newspaper, there were some details in the case that could have cast Ennen and her family in a negative light, and he wanted the family to have closure and still keep Salinas from ever leaving prison.