Father of Frankie Gonzales, slain Waco boy dumped in trash bin, sentenced to 10 years in prison

Boy’s mother facing capital murder charge reportedly agreed to a tentative plea deal
Lorenzo Gonzales (left), and Frankie Gonzales, 2, (right)
Lorenzo Gonzales (left), and Frankie Gonzales, 2, (right)(KWTX)
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 12:33 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The father of Frankie Gonzales, the toddler found battered and dead in a trash bin in June 2020, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday.

Lorenzo Gonzales, 31, pleaded guilty Monday to abandoning a child and injury to a child by omission in a plea bargain with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office that called for Gonzales to serve two concurrent, 10-year prison terms.

Gonzales, who has been jailed 1,006 days, must serve at least half of his 10-year term before he can seek parole. He also has been placed under an immigration detainer and is expected to be deported after he serves his prison term, court officials said Monday.

Frankie’s mother, Laura Villalon, 38, remains jailed under indictment for capital murder and injury to a child. She has a May 15 trial date, but has worked out a tentative plea agreement with the district attorney’s office, her attorney, Russ Hunt, said Monday.

Laura Sanchez told police she last saw her son, Frankie Gonzales, in the area of the restrooms...
Laura Sanchez told police she last saw her son, Frankie Gonzales, in the area of the restrooms near the splash pad in the Pecan Bottoms area of Cameron Park. She was charged with capital murder after the boy's body was found in a dumpster. (Law enforcement photos)(KWTX)

In exchange for her guilty plea to first-degree felony injury to a child, the state has agreed to waive the capital murder charge and the death penalty and recommend she be sentenced to 50 years in prison. Under the terms of that deal, Villalon must be given credit for serving at least a quarter of her sentence before she is eligible for parole, Hunt said. No date has been set for her plea, court officials said.

“We hope today’s plea offers some closure to the family and our community for the tragic loss of Frankie Gonzales,” said McLennan County District Attorney Josh Tetens.

Both Gonzales and Villalon since have relinquished their parental rights to both of Frankie’s sisters, although Gonzales learned last year that one of the girls was fathered by another man.

Before Frankie’s death, Gonzales had primary custody of the two girls and Frankie, who was born while Villalon was in prison. He promised Child Protective Services workers he would not leave the children alone with Villalon without authorized supervision, according to arrest affidavits. He has told police he thought Villalon was progressing in her fight against drug abuse, and therefore, he deemed it safe to leave them alone with her while he went to work.

Villalon, who previously lost custody of six older children because of neglect and prolonged drug abuse, sparked an intensive search by police, the family and community members in June 2020 after she reported that 2-year-old Frankie disappeared during a family trip to Cameron Park.

She changed her story the next day and led police to Frankie’s body after confessing to slamming Frankie’s head against a wall and placing his body in a closet after he lost consciousness, according to court records. She told police she dumped her son in a trash bin after wrapping his body in 12 trash bags.

An autopsy report revealed the 25-pound toddler died of homicidal violence and suffered blunt force injuries, forehead and scalp contusions, a forehead laceration, numerous contusions to his arms and legs and three broken ribs and a broken right arm that pathologists say occurred about a month before his death.