NATIONAL NEWS

Texas woman who fled to Cambodia ahead of trial found guilty of murder in stabbing of Seattle woman

Dec 13, 2023, 4:04 PM

DALLAS (AP) — A Texas woman who cut off her ankle monitor and fled the country while awaiting trial last year was found guilty of murder on Wednesday in the fatal stabbing of a 23-year-old Seattle woman. She was sentenced to life in prison.

A jury in Dallas convicted Lisa Dykes of murder and tampering with evidence in the 2020 killing of Marisela Botello-Valadez following a seven-day trial. Dykes, 60, showed no emotion as a judge read the verdict aloud, according to KDFW-TV.

A lawyer for Dykes, Heath Harris, said his client maintains she is innocent and has already filed paperwork to appeal the verdict.

A spokesperson for the Dallas County District Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The conviction comes days after prosecutors had dropped murder charges against two people who they’d previously accused of Botello-Valadez’s killing. The two, Nina Marano and Charles Anthony Beltran, still face trial on charges of tampering with evidence.

Prosecutors moved to dismiss the murder charges soon after Beltran took the witness stand.

The 34-year-old testified last week that he lived with Marano and Dykes. He said he met Botello-Valadez at a nightclub and the two went to his house, where they had sex. He said he fell asleep and awoke to screaming as Dykes stabbed Botello-Valadez. Under questioning by Harris, Beltran acknowledged that he initially lied to investigators about what had happened.

The three were arrested six months after Botello-Valadez went missing in October 2020. Her remains were found in some woods months after she was reported missing in Dallas.

The case drew international attention last year when Dykes and Marano, 52, cut off their ankle monitors while free on bond. Authorities said they eventually turned up in Cambodia, where they were arrested by local police with help from the FBI.

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