SAN ANTONIO – Joshua Garcia was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday for the murder of his girlfriend Erin Castro who was killed just hours after her 19th birthday.
The couple was out celebrating Castro’s birthday in September 2018 when they got into an argument, according to Garcia’s arrest affidavit. Police said he stabbed her before running her over with his car so she wouldn’t call the police.
Garcia pled guilty to a charge of murder. He turned 23 on Wednesday.
This wasn’t the first time Garcia had hit Castro with his vehicle. He was serving deferred adjudication probation at the time of Castro’s murder for another charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for hitting her with a vehicle in 2016.
His probation was revoked after Castro’s murder and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the first incident - the maximum penalty for the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Both of Garcia’s sentences will run concurrently.
“Erin Castro deserved to celebrate many more birthdays with the people who loved her. While her family, friends and our office tried to keep this defendant away from her, he refused to stay away. That this case started on Ms. Castro’s birthday and is resolved on this defendant’s birthday is notable,” said Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales.
Garcia and Castro started dating when Castro was 16. Following Garcia’s aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge, the pair cut communication, according to a previous KSAT report.
However, Garcia and Castro reunited and Castro’s sister previously told KSAT’s Courtney Friendman that Castro hid their rekindled romance from her family.
“He made his way back in her life. She had hid it from all of us. She said, ‘He’s changed,’” Castro’s sister Ashely Rios said.
“Two young lives forever changed on days their families should be celebrating. Domestic violence changes families and our community must continue working to prevent tragedies like this,” Gonzales said.
Castro’s mother Rena, along with other family members, started the Justice for Erin Foundation following her death in an effort to provide education to families who might not know their loved ones are in an abusive relationship. “We are committed to help identify signs of an unhealthy relationship and provide additional support,” according to the foundation’s website.
According to the DA’s office, Garcia must serve at least half of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
“Domestic violence has no place in our community,” said Assistant District Attorney Ryan Groomer. “Erin’s life was not for Joshua Garcia to take and we are happy that justice has been served. Erin’s family has to live with the pain caused by Joshua Garcia’s actions and we hope that this sentence brings some measure of peace and closure to them.”
Find resources for victims of domestic violence on KSAT’s Loving in Fear page.