By Richie Ramos

MODESTO (CBS13) – A man previously released early under California’s zero-bail order was arrested in connection to the homicide of another man that occurred on Monday, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office said on Thursday.

Alexander Valenzuela, 40, was arrested just before 1 p.m. on Wednesday at his home along Angle Lane. He is suspected of killing Modesto resident Joseph Rivera, 46.

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In May 2019, Valenzuela was sentenced to 32 months in prison for being an ex-felon in possession of a gun. Due to the statewide zero-bail order, which was put into effect to reduce inmate populations as a way to fight the spread of COVID-19 inside jail facilities, Valenzuela was released early on July 27, 2020.

“As a law enforcement official tasked with keeping our citizens safe, this makes me angry,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse. “Valenzuela was not scheduled to be released until December 13, 2020. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that this murder would have been prevented if he would have served his full sentence and not been released early due to COVID-19.”

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According to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, Valenzuela was arrested on Aug. 7, 2020, for obstructing an officer but was released early again due to the zero-bail order.

“This system is failing our citizens,” Sheriff Dirkse said. “Criminals should be behind bars, not released back into the public early. Many of these early release and zero-bail inmates are repeat offenders who continue to victimize law abiding citizens.”

Further details regarding the homicide investigation were not released.

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