Man Sentenced to Life for Killing Transgender Woman in East Houston

Man Sentenced to Life for Killing Transgender Woman in East Houston

A Houston man pleaded guilty to murder in the middle of trial this week and was sentenced to life in prison for killing a transgender woman in east Houston in 2022, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

“This was a cold-blooded murder that the defendant planned out, set up and went through with,” Ogg said. “Shooting a defenseless person is cowardly and despicable, and we hope this defendant spends the rest of his life behind bars.”

A jury was selected Tuesday for the capital murder trial of 19-year-old Oscar Ariel Sierra, and testimony had begun when Sierra opted to plead guilty to murder in exchange for a life sentence instead of letting the jury decide his fate.

Sierra admitted he fatally shot 39-year-old Marisela Castro, a transgender woman, on July 9, 2022. He met her online and lured her to a meeting in order to rob her.

After they met, she was driving him around in her sedan, including stopping at a fast-food drive-thru. After picking up food and drinks, they were driving on a dark street just south of Herman Brown Park, and she stopped the car.

Surveillance video from nearby cameras showed that she got out of the car while Sierra got out of the passenger side with a gun. He then walked behind her to the middle of the street and shot her in the back of the head, killing her and leaving her body there.

Sierra then got back in the victim’s car and drove away. Police found the car about two blocks away. Castro’s phone and purse were missing.

Assistant District Attorneys Tiffany Dupree and Katie Warren, who are both division chiefs in the DA’s Office, prosecuted Sierra.

“This wasn’t a case that was solved in the first 48 hours, but rather took the dedication and persistence of Houston Police Department’s homicide detectives, who left no stone unturned,” Dupree said. “As a result, we were able to successfully prosecute the brutal execution of Marisela Castro, holding the defendant accountable for his horrible actions and ensuring justice for her and her family.”

Sierra was 17 years old at the time of shooting. If convicted of capital murder, the juvenile would have been eligible for parole after 40 years.

By pleading guilty to murder, Sierra will be eligible for parole after 30 years, but he cannot appeal the conviction or the sentence.