Spring Branch Man Sentenced to Two Life Sentences for Double Murder

Spring Branch Man Sentenced to Two Life Sentences for Double Murder
Herbert Simon

A Spring Branch man was sentenced to two life sentences on Wednesday for killing a man he knew, then killing the man’s girlfriend, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

“This was an ambush, plain and simple, and it was important to the family and to our community that we bring the people who were responsible to justice,” Ogg said. “What happened to this young couple is simply unforgivable, and we will continue working to get justice for them and their families.”

Herbert James Simon, 42, was sentenced by state District Judge Andrea Beall after being convicted of murder and aggravated kidnapping by a jury in a five-day trial.

Simon and another man, Josue Casco, who is in federal custody, were involved in the deaths of Robert Cerda and Rachel Delarosa, both 29, on December 11, 2017.

Cerda was on a date with Delarosa at a seafood restaurant in Spring Branch that evening. After dinner, the couple walked to a nearby barber shop, which was closed but where friends hung out and drank beer.

Cerda went inside and was talking to several men he knew when Simon pulled a handgun and shot him in the back and then several times, killing him. Another man brought Delarosa into the salon, where they held her against her will as they decided what to do with her.

Jurors convicted Simon of murder for killing Cerda and aggravated kidnapping for holding Delarosa against her will in the shop.

Casco, the second suspect, is expected to be returned to Harris County to face trial for capital murder. The murder investigation found that he forced Delarosa into his car, drove her to a rural area near Fresno, and killed her with the same gun that was used to kill Cerda.

Fort Bend County residents who heard the gunshots came out of their homes to investigate. Delarosa’s body was found just 90 minutes after she had finished dinner with Cerda. Investigators recovered surveillance video of a car leaving the area that was later matched to Casco’s car.

Casco returned to the barber shop with a tarp, rope, and cleaning supplies. He and Simon wrapped up Cerda’s body and cleaned up the murder scene.

They put the body in the trunk of Casco’s car and dumped it in a rural area of north Houston, near the Eastex Freeway. It was found the next day, and detectives with the Houston Police Department began investigating.

The case went cold until 2022, when a tipster told authorities what happened, leading to Simon and Casco being charged.

Assistant District Attorneys Lisa Calligan and Samantha Knecht, both division chiefs in the DA’s Office, prosecuted Simon.

“We know from the physical evidence and the witnesses that this is exactly what happened, and we are thankful the jury convicted this defendant of both crimes,” Calligan said. “We have video from the seafood restaurant, and we can see Robert and Rachel laughing and having a good time, and what they went through is just awful — they didn’t deserve this.”