Sullivan City man gets 20 years in prison for girlfriend’s death

EDINBURG — A Sullivan City man found guilty of manslaughter Friday by a jury decided to have his prison sentence determined by a district court judge rather than a panel of 12 of his peers.

State District Judge Luis Singleterry sentenced Federico Cantu to 20 years in prison Monday based on an agreement between the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office and Cantu’s attorneys, Carlos A. Garcia and David R. Cantu. Twenty years was the maximum sentence he could have received for the second degree felony charge.

A jury convicted Cantu, 32, of manslaughter for the shooting death of Viridiana Hernandez in October 2014.

He was indicted on a first-degree murder charge, but jurors found him guilty of “recklessly” causing the 25-year-old’s death rather than “intentionally or knowingly” doing so, the distinction the Texas Penal Code makes between the charges.

Cantu has maintained the shooting was accidental and occurred while he was cleaning his gun, but Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office investigators believe he intentionally shot his girlfriend of three years in the face because she wanted to leave him.

During the weeklong trial, Hernandez’s family, friends and coworkers testified about the nature of the couple’s relationship, which they said was plagued by jealousy, insecurities and controlling behavior.

Cantu apologized to Hernandez’s family before being led out of the courtroom, telling them she and he are the only ones who really know what happened that night, and that her death was an accident.