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Waxahachie, Texas News

Waxahachie Father Sentenced to Life in Prison for Brutal Abuse and Death of Seven-Month-Old Daughter

Booking photo of Jose Sierra

In an announcement, Ellis County and District Attorney Ann Montgomery disclosed that 38-year-old Jose Sierra of Waxahachie, Texas, has been sentenced to life in prison for the heinous crime of Injury to a Child. The incident occurred on December 28, 2021, when Sierra arrived at the Ellis County Jail in downtown Waxahachie, seeking help for his unresponsive baby daughter, Valeria Sierra.

On December 28, 2021, Sierra pulled up to the Ellis County Jail in downtown Waxahachie and flagged down two maintenance workers, stating that his baby was unresponsive. A worker called 911 and an ambulance arrived on the scene in less than a minute. A paramedic found the child unresponsive, limp, and cold to the touch. Despite life-saving efforts in the ambulance, paramedics were never able to get a cardiac rhythm. The child, seven-month-old Valeria Sierra, was pronounced dead at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Waxahachie. Emergency room personnel immediately grew suspicious upon examination of the infant as she had several bruises on her body and multiple broken bones in various stages of healing

An autopsy performed at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas revealed that Valeria had two healing broken clavicles, a healing fracture to the left femur, healing fractures to the left proximal tibia, and a refracture to a healing break of the left distal fibula. The child also had numerous bruises and hemorrhages to her head, face, neck, chin, shoulder, torso, right hand, and left leg. According to forensic pathologist Dr. Chester Gwin, Valeria’s body “could no longer fight and heal from these injuries.”

During police interrogations, Sierra attempted to deflect blame onto several individuals, including the child's mother, Valeria's pediatrician, and even the infant herself. However, his explanations failed to align with the medical evidence or the force required to cause such injuries. The investigation indicated that Valeria's abuse began shortly after her mother returned to work, leaving Sierra as the sole caregiver.

On September 28, 2023, a jury swiftly reached a guilty verdict, condemning Sierra to a life sentence. Judge Cindy Ermatinger of the 443rd District Court, who presided over the trial, delivered the sentence. The charge of Injury to a Child, as per the indictment, carries a sentence ranging from 5 to 99 years or life in prison, with the defendant being eligible for probation.

Expressing her outrage, Montgomery stated, "The injuries this baby endured during her short life were despicable. The person who should have protected Valeria was, in fact, the perpetrator. Once again, an Ellis County jury showed that if you commit a crime and intentionally or knowingly hurt a child, there will be severe consequences. I am proud of the work by my office and the Waxahachie Police Department in bringing justice for Valeria."

The prosecution was led by Assistant County and District Attorneys James Zaleta and Sherry Roeder, with invaluable assistance from County and District Attorney Investigator Todd Woodruff. The case was meticulously investigated by Officer Elizabeth Glidewell, Detective Jill Turner, and retired Officer Michael McCorkle of the Waxahachie Police Department. Special recognition was extended to Dr. Suzanne Dakil, M.D., of the REACH Clinic at Children’s Health in Dallas, for her expert testimony, as well as the dedicated Emergency Room personnel at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center, Waxahachie, who aided in the case.

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