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Killer of 2 El Pasoans on Thanksgiving Day 2018 avoids death penalty with plea deal

EL PASO, Texas -- An Arizona man facing an upcoming trial on capital murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery charges appeared in an El Paso courtroom Thursday afternoon, and pled guilty to all three counts in a deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty.

A judge then sentenced Jason Gibson to three consecutive life sentences in prison.

The charges against the then-38-year-old Gibson stemmed from a Thanksgiving Day 2018 crime spree that authorities said began with the beating an 86-year-old man and kidnapping of two women during a home invasion in New Mexico and ended with the deadly shootings of an El Paso father and son.

Gibson fled the Borderland afterwards and was captured several days later by federal marshals in Daytona Beach, Florida. Since his extradition back to Texas, Gibson has remained held on more than $2 million bond in the El Paso County Detention Center pending trial.

Police and court records outlined the case against him as follows: Gibson forced his way into a home in a Las Cruces gated mobile home park and then beat the homeowner. He would go on to kidnap the man's adult daughter and a friend when they arrived at the home to pick up the man for a Thanksgiving meal.

Armed with a handgun, Gibson ordered the daughter to drive him to northeast El Paso, where he shot a family of three during another home invasion that day in the 8300 block of Signal Peak. Two of those shooting victims were killed: Juan Pablo Salas, 58, and his 24-year-old son, Jonathan Salas. Lorenza Salas, who is the wife and mother of the two deceased, survived the shooting.

Family members of the slain victims delivered impact statements during Thursday's court hearing, but they declined comment to an ABC-7 reporter afterwards about their thoughts on the plea deal and Gibson's sentence.

The El Paso District Attorney's Office didn't immediately respond to requests for comment about the impetus behind the plea agreement.

(The Associated Press contributed background to this report.)

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Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the former Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.


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