A two-time convicted sex offender awaiting sentencing on a new charge is on the run.
Benny Valenzuela pleaded no contest in February to four counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor and aggravated indecent exposure. Valenzuela, who is facing 27 years in prison, was scheduled to be sentenced on May 13. However, Judge Cindy Mercer approved a six-hour furlough for Valenzuela on Friday to allow him to visit his newborn granddaughter, and he never returned.
Records show Valenzuela was convicted in 1990 of raping a woman and has a history of failing to register as a sex offender as required. He also has a number of probation violations.
The District Attorney’s office opposed the furlough. They say they had brought Valenzuela’s past to the judge’s attention over the course of the case, and also requested an ankle monitor if Valenzuela was going to be furloughed.
Judge Mercer approved the furlough with no GPS monitor. KRQE News 13 reached out to the judge to see if she would talk about her decision. A court spokesperson said he would send a statement, but we have not received it.