Houston man pleads guilty to murder of transgender woman, receives life sentence

A 19-year-old Oscar Ariel Sierra will spend life behind bars after pleading guilty to the murder of a 39-year-old transgender woman in east Houston back in 2022. The decision came during Sierra's trial, which had commenced with jury selection and initial testimony.

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Sierra's guilty plea followed the unfolding of events where he had arranged to meet Marisela Castro online, purportedly with intentions of robbery. Surveillance footage unveiled the chilling act wherein Sierra, armed with a firearm, fatally shot Castro in the back of the head after they had parked on a dimly lit street near Herman Brown Park.

 Oscar Ariel Sierra (Photo: Houston Police Department)

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Following the murder, authorities say Sierra fled the scene in Castro's vehicle, leaving her belongings behind. The case, however, wasn't swiftly resolved. It took dedicated efforts from the Houston Police Department's homicide detectives to gather evidence and build a case against Sierra.

Marisela Castro (Photo: Houston Police Department)


"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."

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Assisting in the prosecution were Assistant District Attorneys Tiffany Dupree and Katie Warren, who highlighted the relentless work of law enforcement in ensuring justice for Castro and her family. Sierra, who was a minor at the time of the crime, faced the possibility of parole after 40 years if convicted of capital murder. However, by opting for a guilty plea to murder, he will be eligible for parole after 30 years, with no avenue for appeal.

District Attorney Kim Ogg expressed condemnation for Sierra's actions."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."