2 sentenced for tampering with corpse of Seattle woman killed in Dallas in 2020 (2024)

The two accused accomplices to the 2020 murder of a young Seattle woman pleaded guilty to tampering with a corpse and were sentenced this week for their roles in her disappearance.

A judge handed down a six-year sentence against Charles Beltran, 35, on Friday for failing to call police after witnessing the fatal stabbing of Marisela Botello-Valadez on Oct. 5, 2020. Nina Marano, 52, struck a deal with prosecutors earlier this week and will serve eight years for helping dump Botello’s body. Her fragmented skeleton was found 170 days later off a country road in southern Dallas County.

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Beltran and Marano appeared in court Friday morning to face Botello’s family, who gave victim impact statements. Absent from the Dallas County courtroom was Lisa Dykes, who was convicted of Botello’s murder in December and sentenced to life in prison. Dykes is also serving a concurrent 20-year sentence for tampering.

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“Hearing the name of my daughter being said, you don’t know the harm that it’s done to me and my family,” Marisela’s mother, Ernestina Valadez, said in Spanish. “I hope that when you leave here, you don’t go through this — what I’m going through — because it’s horrible, and I don’t wish that on anyone. I’m physically and mentally sick.”

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She added: “I hope that you will repent for what you did, and the day you get out, you have that peace with what you did and what you didn’t do to help my daughter.”

Beltran’s attorneys advocated for the minimum sentence, two years. Tampering with a corpse, a second-degree felony, carries up to 20 years in prison.

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“We do think this was fair given his unfortunate role of not contacting the police after the fact and 170 days lingering,” defense attorney Myra McIntosh told The Dallas Morning News. “He’s at peace with it.”

When asked about Beltran’s reaction to his sentence, McIntosh said he felt “relief that it’s over, relief that the family has justice, relief that he has some sense of where his life is headed and how much time he actually has to do for this offense.”

Marano’s attorney, Valerie Baston,said she was happy to strike a deal with prosecutors. Baston, who also represented Dykes at trial, said Dykes continues to maintain she’s innocent of Botello’s murder.

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A spokeswoman for the Dallas County district attorney’s office declined to comment.

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Murder charges dropped midtrial against 2 in Dallas-area slaying of Seattle woman

Botello was described as a trusting, vibrant young woman who loved to travel. She’d booked cheap, spontaneous plane tickets to visit an old friend in Dallas over a long weekend in October 2020.

Testimony at Dykes’ weeklong trial provided the most thorough account of what allegedly happened Oct. 5. The trial relied heavily on circ*mstantial evidence and testimony from Beltran.

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Beltran, Dykes and Marano were in a physical and romantic relationship, prosecutors said. Dykes supported Beltran financially and invested in his budding rap career, while Beltran gave Dykes companionship, according to prosecutors. Dykes married Marano, a lawyer, and the trio moved into a Mesquite home.

How did this happen?

Botello was bar-hopping alone in Deep Ellum, and Beltran told jurors he wooed her; Beltran said they went back to the Mesquite home, had sex and fell asleep.

2 sentenced for tampering with corpse of Seattle woman killed in Dallas in 2020 (1)

In the early hours, Beltran testified he awoke to screams of “help me, help me,” and saw Dykes straddling Botello, grasping a knife and making a stabbing motion. He said he pushed Dykes and Botello tumbled off the bed.

In shock, Beltran said he went into the bathroom and splashed water on his face. When he went back into his bedroom, he said Dykes was standing over Botello’s lifeless body in a red-stained nightgown. He said blood oozed from Botello’s naked chest, seeping into the carpet.

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“What did I do? What did I do?” Beltran recalled Dykes muttering.

He recalled telling Dykes, “You need to figure this s--- out, you told me to leave.” Beltran put on clothes and left. He got an oil change and visited a friend.

Discarded like trash

Prosecutors said Marano and Dykes left Botello’s body in Wilmer, 2 miles from where Dykes once lived. Prosecutors said Botello was discarded like trash. Her skull and a few bones were found in March 2021 in a muddy farmed and wooded field by someone laying traps for feral cats.

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Botello’s family grew worried when she missed her return flight. They traced her rideshare receipts and bank activity to pinpoint her last known locations, and there was no activity on her cellphone, bank account or social media accounts, and police homed in on Beltran as a person of interest early in the investigation.

After the killing, Dykes, Marano and Beltran traveled between Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida and Mexico. Marano and Dykes were arrested separately in Florida, while Beltran was taken into custody in Utah.

Escape to Cambodia

Dykes and Marano were released from jail on bail, removed their court-issued ankle monitors and went on the lam to a coastal town in Cambodia. Dykes said they fled to seek asylum. When confronted by Cambodian and U.S. authorities, Dykes brazenly asked, “What jurisdiction do you have here?” prosecutors said.

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The trio faced murder charges, but prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss the charges against Marano and Beltran “in the interest of justice” amid Dykes’ trial.

Dallas murder case could be in jeopardy after detective holds back, loses evidence

On Friday, prosecutor Robin Pittman said Beltran acted callous, selfish and self-centered immediately after Botello’s murder. Pittman said he “lacked any empathy or sympathy” for Botello’s family.

Defense attorneys argued that, while in Dallas County jail, Beltran was a “model inmate” and eventually accepted responsibility for his role in tampering with Botello’s body. McIntosh, his attorney, said he’s shown the “greatest form of remorse and regret under these circ*mstances.”

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He cooperated with prosecutors and was an integral witness in their cases against Dykes and Marano; prosecutors said Friday that they believe Beltran has integrity “in his heart.”

Beltran took the stand in his own defense, saying he wants to reform himself and is considering rehab and therapy after prison. He also aspires to become a trucker and be a better dad for his two daughters. Beltran struggled at times during his testimony while addressing Botello’s family, but he apologized for his actions and asked them for mercy.

Judge Nancy Mulder admonished Marano, who was a licensed attorney, for her role in dumping Botello’s body: “With all of her education and background in the legal field, I cannot imagine and in any way understand the choices that she made that day to participate in this cover-up and disposal of a beloved daughter and sister.”

“You must know that every day that you’re in prison serving your sentence, whatever discomfort that you feel will never equate the agony that this poor woman’s mother, father and brother suffered not knowing where she was, not knowing what happened to her,” Mulder told Beltran and Marano.

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“I can only hope that your sentences will somehow bring comfort to them and their bereavement,” she said.

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2 sentenced for tampering with corpse of Seattle woman killed in Dallas in 2020 (2024)

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