Spring Branch Man Gets to Two Life Sentences for Role in Death of Couple in 2017

Spring Branch Man Gets to Two Life Sentences  for Role in Death of Couple in 2017

A Spring Branch man was sentenced to two life sentences Wednesday for killing a man he knew, then killing the man’s girlfriend, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

“This was an ambush, plain and simple, and it was important to the family and to our community that we bring the people who were responsible to justice,” Ogg said. “What happened to this young couple is simply unforgivable, and we will continue working to get justice for them and their families.”

Herbert James Simon, 42, was sentenced by state District Judge Andrea Beall after being convicted of murder and aggravated kidnapping by a jury in a five-day trial.

Simon and another man, Josue Casco, who is in federal custody, were involved in the deaths of Robert Cerda and Rachel Delarosa, both 29, on Dec. 11, 2017.

Cerda was on a date with Delarosa at a seafood restaurant in Spring Branch that evening. After they finished dinner, the couple walked to a nearby barber shop, which was closed but where friends hung out and drank beer.

Cerda went inside and was talking to several men he knew when Simon pulled a handgun and shot him in the back and then again several times, killing him. Another man went outside and brought Delarosa into the salon, where they held her against her will as they decided what to do with her.

Jurors convicted Simon of murder for killing Cerda and aggravated kidnapping for holding Delarosa against her will in the shop.

Casco, the second suspect, is expected to be returned to Harris County to face trial for capital murder. The murder investigation found that he forced Delarosa into his car, drove her to a rural area near Fresno and killed her with the same gun that was used to kill Cerda.

Fort Bend County residents who heard the gunshots came out of their homes to investigate. Delarosa’s body was found just 90 minutes after she had finished dinner with Cerda. Investigators recovered surveillance video of a car leaving the area that investigators later matched to Casco’s car.

Casco returned to the barber shop with a tarp, rope and cleaning supplies. He and Simon wrapped up Cerda’s body and cleaned up the murder scene.

They put the body in the trunk of Casco’s car and dumped it in a rural area of north Houston, near the Eastex Freeway. It was found the next day, and detectives with the Houston Police Department began investigating.

After that, the case went cold until 2022, when a tipster told authorities what happened and Simon and Casco were both charged in the crimes.

Assistant District Attorneys Lisa Calligan and Samantha Knecht, who are both division chiefs in the DA’s Office, prosecuted Simon.

“We know from the physical evidence and the witnesses that this is exactly what happened, and we are thankful the jury convicted this defendant of both crimes,” Calligan said. “We have video from the seafood restaurant, and we can see Robert and Rachel laughing and having good time, and what they went through is just awful — they didn’t deserve this.”