Man sentenced to 70 years in prison for murder-for-hire plot

John Cantu was found guilty of John Cantu’s murder

John Cantu is charged with capital murder in the 2019 shooting death of Mike Perez. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A man found guilty of being the trigger man in a murder-for-hire plot has learned his prison sentence.

On Thursday, John Cantu was sentenced to 70 years in prison by 186th District Court Judge Kristina Escalona.

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He will be eligible for parole after serving half of the term. He received credit for the time he already served.

Cantu was originally charged with capital murder in the February 2019 shooting death of Mike Perez, but he was found guilty of a lesser charge of murder earlier this month.

Perez died from multiple gunshot wounds on the side of a South Side road.

According to opening statements by the prosecution, Cantu was given $500 by his sister-in-law, Christina Rodriguez, to kill Perez.

Mike Perez was murdered in Feb. 2019 as part of a murder-for-hire plot. (Copyright 2023 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Rodriguez allegedly was in trouble with her drug supplier for diluting drugs and wanted to shift the blame on one of her drug runners, Perez.

She asked her husband, Manuel Cantu, to kill Perez, but he refused, and she then asked his brother, John Cantu, prosecutors said.

Carmen Hernandez, who was a babysitter for Manuel Cantu and Rodriguez and lived in their home, testified that she heard Rodriguez and John Cantu talk about the plan. Part of the plan included for Rodriguez to supply the bullets and to pay John Cantu.

“He said, ‘I’ll do it,’ and then told her that he needed bullets for the gun, and she said, ‘I got you,’” Hernandez said.

Rodriguez and Manuel Cantu are also facing a capital murder charge in this case and are still awaiting trial.

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About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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