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Mexico Chauffeur Sentenced to Jail

May 15, 1998

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A chauffeur has been sentenced to 118 years in prison for the 1996 murder of the couple he worked for _ a journalist and a writer _ and their three children.

Judge Jose Eligio Rodriguez Alba said he sentenced chauffeur Alejandro Perez de la Rosa to 118 years as a symbolic gesture because of the brutality of the crime, even though the law allows only a 50-year sentence, Mexican news media reported Thursday.

The murders made headlines in December 1996, when the bodies of Fernando Balderas, his wife, Yolanda Figueroa, their 18-year-old daughter and two younger sons were found bludgeoned to death in their beds in their home in a fashionable Mexico City neighborhood.

Perez was found in the house as well, bludgeoned in the head but still alive. He recovered weeks later and confessed to police.

He said he, another chauffeur, Martin Hernandez, and a maid, Josefina Hernandez, decided to kill the family because Fernando Balderas had raped the maid and at least one other servant whose name was not made public.

Perez argued with his accomplices over how to split the family’s valuables, and the two beat Perez unconscious, he told investigators.

Police are still searching for the two Hernandezes, who were not related.

Balderas, publisher of the weekly scandal sheet Cuarto Poder (Fourth Estate), had been under investigation for alleged links to drug traffickers. Arrested warrants had also been issued in the past but never served _ for rape, and for trying to extort account holders of a bank.

During an investigation, police also reported discovering possessions such as expensive cars that would seem beyond the family’s earnings.

Balderas once worked as a Mexico City judicial police officer and served brief stints as an adviser to a city attorney general and a federal attorney general.

Months before her murder, Figueroa had published a book called ``The Boss of the Gulf,″ about Gulf Cartel leader Juan Garcia Abrego. Balderas had worked with her on the book.

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