A two-time convicted sex offender who went on the run while awaiting sentencing has been caught by authorities. Benny Valenzuela was picked up by U.S. Marshals in Albuquerque and has been transported to the Valencia County Detention Center.
Back in February, Valenzuela pleaded no contest to four counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor and aggravated indecent exposure. He was facing 27 years in prison and was scheduled to be sentenced this week.
In court late last month, however, Valenzuela told Judge Mindy mercer he just wanted to spend time with his grandchildren, Thursday, he admitted he didn’t even do that while out on his court approved furlough.
“I went to see them, spend time with them, which i didn’t do. Instead of spending time with my grandkids I decided to leave, and here I am,” Valenzuela says.
When Valenzuela asked for the furlough to visit with his new born granddaughter, he told Judge Mercer he was ready to take responsibility for his actions and accept any penalty. Judge Mercer then granted Valenzuela a six-hour furlough for the visit without a GPS monitor.
“In this particular case, it’s up to the courts and the District Attorney’s office how to proceed further with somebody that’s in custody on this type of thing, such a furlough,” said Sgt. Joseph Rowland.
KRQE News 13 reached out to Judge Mercer’s office about her decision to let Valenzuela out. They said granting furloughs is not unusual, but they couldn’t comment any further because it’s a pending case.
In 1990, Valenzuela was convicted of raping a woman and has a history of failing to register as a sex offender.