Thursday, June 13

Woman sentenced to 35 years in prison after brother gets life without parole

A 23-year-old West Palm Beach woman on Wednesday was sentenced to 35 years in prison after taking a plea deal of second-degree murder, one month after her brother was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the crime two years ago.

Sophia Valdez, 23, had originally been charged with first-degree murder. Circuit Court Judge Howard Coates Jr. also sentenced her to 24.2625 years each for felon in possession of a firearm, accessory after fact of a capital felony and fleeing to be served concurrently.

Her brother, Luis Valdez, 26, was sentenced Aug. 22 after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder with a firearm and felon in possession of a firearm on July 31.

The siblings lived in the same mobile home park.

Jaytwan McNeal, 23, was killed in September 2021.

Palm Beach County sheriff’s detectives say Sophia Valdez drove McNeal to her residence before her brother shot and killed him. McNeal was reported missing Sept. 25, 2021, four days after he was last seen on surveillance video walking away from his apartment complex in Oakland Park in Broward County,

A tipster later told the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that McNeal traveled north to Palm Beach County to meet with Sophia Valdez, a longtime friend and schoolmate.

The tipster claimed Valdez’s older brother, Luis Valdez, shot and killed McNeal, wrapped his body in a blue tarp, loaded it into Sophia Valdez’s car and then discarded it in a dumpster.

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