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Local inmate, released early, arrested for murder
Alexander Valenzuela is back in jail
Released inmate Alexander Valenzuela is back in jail.

Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse said state leaders are responsible for the COVID outbreak related early release of an inmate who allegedly immediately killed a man in Modesto on Monday, Nov. 30.

Sheriff’s Department detectives arrested Alexander Valenzuela, 40, Modesto, in connection with the Nov. 30 homicide of Joseph Rivera, 46, of Modesto. Valenzuela was arrested just before 1 p.m. Wednesday at his home in the 100 block of Angle Lane in Modesto.

Sheriff’s officials learned that Valenzuela had been released early from prison because of the state accelerated release program due to COVID-19. On May 29, 2019, Valenzuela was sentenced to 32 months in state prison for being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm. Valenzuela was granted early release by CDCR on July 27, 2020 prior to completing his 32-month sentence.

“As a law enforcement official tasked with keeping our citizen’s safe, this makes me angry,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse. “Valenzuela was not scheduled to be released until Dec. 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.”

This was not the first time that Valenzuela has been arrested since his early release. On August 7, 2020, he was arrested for delaying/obstructing an officer. His booking charge of 148(a)(1) PC is a zero-bail charge so the Sheriff’s Office was forced to release him from custody due to zero bail.

“This system is failing our citizens,” said Dirkse. “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.”

The investigation into the homicide is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding the Modesto homicide case is urged to contact Crime Stoppers or Detective Sulkowski at (209) 525-7032. If you have any information, you can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636.  Tipsters can also submit tips at or use the mobile app "P3" and you may be eligible for a cash reward.