Teen carjacker who shot woman in the face at Alamo Quarry Market sentenced to 45 years

Julio Caesar Rivera, 20, took a plea deal that limited his potential prison sentence

San Antonio – A teenage carjacker was handed a prison sentence Friday that will last into his 60s.

Julio Caesar Rivera was accused of a slew of armed carjackings between October and November 2021 when he was still 18 years old.

He was arrested with a gun in hand after shooting Alana Castaneda in the face during a failed carjacking near Whole Foods at Alamo Quarry Market.

Rivera made a deal with prosecutors earlier this year that led to him pleading guilty in three cases, including Castaneda’s.

The deal lowered the prison sentence Rivera may have faced had he been convicted at trial, but it also means he could not appeal his sentence.

Though Rivera could have been sentenced to as little as five years, District Court Judge Ron Rangel chose to give Rivera, now 20 years old, the maximum sentence of 45 years.

The more than 20 months Rivera has spent in the Bexar County Jail is included as part of that sentence.

Castaneda was in the courtroom for the sentencing and requested Rivera get the full 45 years. She testified she has had three surgeries already and is about to have a fourth to help correct her vision.

“As soon as they said it was 45 years, like, I just started crying ‘cuz it’s like, it’s not just for me. It’s for the other victims as well,” Castaneda told KSAT after the hearing.

Prosecutors said Rivera typically approached women for the string of armed carjackings, which happened at a gas station, a car wash, and North Star Mall. One incident involved a mother with her child.

“It is rare that we have truly innocent victims before us,” Assistant District Attorney Jessica Schulze told Rangel. “It’s usually people that are up to no good themselves - often. But in this instance, every one of these victims was just going about their life, pumping gas in their car, buying a sandwich at Whole Foods, and he chose to prey on them.”

Castaneda’s shooting was Rivera’s final attempt. He approached Castaneda while she sat in her car and demanded her keys, but she fought back. After Rivera shot her, Castaneda ran back into the Whole Foods she had just left to get help.

Rivera was caught with a .40 caliber handgun by a nearby movie theater.

According to court documents from a separate federal case over the shooting, Rivera told police he had only meant to hit Castaneda, not shoot her.

He also told police that a friend had asked him about stealing a car to use for human smuggling.

Rivera’s family asked for leniency in the sentencing, saying that he had grown up without his biological mother, and suggested he had been manipulated by other people into the carjackings. His father’s partner also said they had kicked him out of the home multiple times because of problems with drugs.

Prosecutors, though, pushed for tougher sentencing.

“So I appreciate that his parents might think he was put up to it. But these are his choices. These were his decisions. This was his gun. And he repeatedly went out and committed this crime in multiple places over this town,” Schulze said.

Before Rangel handed down his sentence, Rivera turned to the courtroom and apologized directly to Castaneda, saying there was no explanation for justifying his actions.

“I’ve had a lot of time to sit here and think about what I’ve done. I’m not the same person I was two years ago. And I prayed every day for forgiveness and just for you to be in good health,” Rivera said.

Castaneda said it was hard to face Rivera again.

“I mean, yes, I was listening to him. But at the same time, it’s like, you did what you did,” she told KSAT.

Online court records show Rivera also faces an aggravated robbery charge out of Travis County.

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About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.

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