Human smuggler gets 3 life sentences in decades-old murder case

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — A man convicted of trying to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States now has three consecutive life sentences after a plea deal on numerous charges, including capital murder.

The investigation started when Donna Mae Inlow, 72, was found dead in April 1981. She was found in her family’s shoe store by the owner of a neighboring business the following morning. Police say Inlow was attacked just before closing the store, and she was found with a fractured skull and injuries consistent with strangulation. Investigators also say Inlow had been sexually assaulted and stabbed several times.

Further investigation found the killer had cleared out the cash resister before leaving Inlow to die.

Although suspects were developed over the years, the case ultimately went cold.

In 2001, samples from Inlow’s pantyhose were submitted for DNA testing. A profile was developed and eventually submitted to Combined DNA Index System (“CODIS”). In 2019, Texas law enforcement were notified of a hit matching Pablo Figueroa, 62, whose profile was uploaded to CODIS after being federally convicted of conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens.

Upon completion of his federal sentence, Figueroa was transferred to Brown County in September 2023 to await trial. After approximately a year of litigation, Figueroa’s counsel approached prosecutors seeking a deal. Negotiations led to a plea bargain resulting in guilty pleas for capital murder, aggravated robbery, and aggravated rape, each coupled with a life sentence to run consecutive to each other, waiving presentencing time credits, and waiving future challenges to the convictions.

Earlier this month, and 42 years after Inlow’s murder, Judge Mike Smith of the 35th District Court of Brown County, Texas, accepted the plea bargain and Figueroa’s guilty pleas and imposed three life sentences to run consecutive to each other.

The Office of the Attorney General assisted local prosecutors upon request, including an additional investigation conducted by Sergeants Joe Baca and David Fugitt of the Criminal Investigations Division.

More about: