Pair want suspect in slaying punished

Both siblings wounded in a machete attack in December that claimed the life of their mother hide their scars.

Silvia Gonzalez, the 12-year-old whose wound required 24 stitches to close, wears a tan cloth hat pulled down nearly to her eyes to cover her injury.

Her 27-year-old brother, Sergio Casterjon, masks his wounds with anger.

Victor Orlando Cruz-Garcia “should pay because he took my mother’s life away,” Casterjon said through a translator. “My mother gave him a place to sleep.”

Casterjon spoke outside a courtroom on Tuesday after Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Karen Bennett-Haron ruled there was enough evidence for Cruz-Garcia to be tried on a charge of murder with a deadly weapon and two counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon.

He is accused of assaulting Casterjon and his sister and hacking to death their 46-year-old mother, Beatrice Alvarez, on Dec. 20.

The case drew national attention because of the brutality of the attack.

The church that Alvarez attended raised almost $1,000 for her funeral expenses; and nurses who cared for Silvia at University Medical Center gave her Christmas gifts, including a hand-held video game system.

Authorities and the victims said Cruz-Garcia, 29, attacked the family at their apartment, near Bonanza Road and Eastern Avenue, after he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend, Maria Erlinda Ulloa Liniona.

Alvarez allowed the couple to stay with her and her family so they wouldn’t be homeless.

Casterjon didn’t testify during Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, but his sister did.

The sixth-grader told the court that she yelled at Cruz-Garcia when he first struck her mother in the face with the machete.

“I only told him to leave my mom,” she said, speaking through a translator.

But when she cried out in her mother’s defense, Cruz-Garcia used the machete on the child.

Silvia removed her hat once during the hearing to show the judge the scar on her forehead.

Silvia said her brother grabbed a mop stick to try to defend her and her mother, but Cruz-Garcia sliced the mop stick in half.

Casterjon then yelled at her to leave the apartment. Silvia ran to a neighbor’s apartment, and the police were called.

Casterjon lamented Tuesday that he had been unable to protect his mother and sister in the attack.

“I felt bad that I couldn’t help them,” he said.

Casterjon suffered several blows on his head, an amputated finger and a nearly severed arm. His finger and arm were reattached at UMC.

He still wears bandages over both his hands but is recovering, although his movement is restricted by the wound.

Casterjon said he and his sister are now living with friends at a safe location.

He wants his sister to get therapy to help her deal emotionally with the attack and losing her mother.

Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@reviewjournal.com or (702) 380-1039.

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