Julio Sesar Paniagau, 22, was sentenced to 10 years for both, tampering with evidence and criminally negligent homicide in the murder of his sister.
On June 7, 2020, Wharton Police Department (WPD) detectives responded to a call at the residence of 19-year-old Stephanie Paniagua.
Detectives found Stephanie’s lifeless body in what appeared to be a tampered crime scene.
Two days following the deadly shooting incident, Julio was arrested on charges of tampering or fabricating physical evidence with the intent to impair.
“When the incident occurred, our department had to sift through a mountain of falsehoods and inconsistencies, including Julio’s own story that attempted to pin the homicide on some unknown person wearing all black that entered his home,” WPD said.
On June 11, WPD formally charged Julio with murder.
“Our entire department worked tirelessly to bring Stephanie (Paniagua’s) killer to justice,” WPD said. “Although, it’s even tougher when all of the facts and circumstances uncovered showed that she was killed by her own brother.”
He remained in the custody of the Wharton County Jail, held on bonds totaling $400,000.
Julio’s sentencing came after he forwent his right to a trial by issuing a plea of guilty to the 329th District Court of Texas.
Presiding Judge Randy M. Clapp sentenced Julio to 10 years concurrent at the Texas Department of Corrections.
This allows Julio to serve sentences for both charges at the same time.
Wharton County District Attorney Dawn Allison said the defendant did receive the maximum amount of prison time as allowed under the law for both charges and thanked WPD for its dedication to the case.
“It is truly a tragedy when a young person’s life is taken under these circumstances, especially, when it involves another family member,” Allison said.
WPD said, “We’re proud to have spoken for Stephanie and we hope that she finds peace beyond this earth!”