Jury found Santana Valdez, working for a Mexican drug cartel, used excessive cruelty in the slaying.
Santana Valdez, a money collector for a Mexican drug cartel, was sentenced on Wednesday to more than 32 years in prison for the horrific slaying of a St. Paul man who allegedly owed a drug debt.
Andy Braun, 38, bled to death in an attack a year ago, every part of his body covered with wounds from a screwdriver, a samurai sword, a bayonet and human teeth, which left big, deep bite marks that were viewed by jurors in gruesome autopsy photos.
Because a jury found excessive cruelty and other aggravated factors, including the slaying’s ties to a methamphetamine ring, Ramsey County District Judge Gregg Johnson sentenced Valdez to 387 months for two counts of second-degree murder.
Braun’s mother, Linda Braun, wanted an even longer prison sentence, she said after leaving the courtroom. She said she was angered to see Valdez “snickering” during the trial in St. Paul.
“I wish the sentence had been longer because of the cruelty of the crime,” she said. “I guess nothing brings Andy back.”
Valdez’s co-defendant, Carlos Yobani Flores Amador, is serving 25 years for the killing, and a third defendant, Maria H. Luna, pleaded guilty to being an accomplice after the fact and was sentenced on Wednesday to eight years in prison. She’s also serving time for drug crimes.
Both Luna and Amador testified that Valdez led the attack in Braun’s home.
The trio were living under a bridge when arrested, and later claimed they were hiding out from the methamphetamine dealer who wanted them to get the money that Braun owed.
The men are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and face deportation after they have served their sentences.
Joy Powell • 651-925-5038