Man guilty of capital murder of ex-teacher
By Elizabeth Allen: Express-News
Jurors were subdued, and some struggled to contain their emotions while the verdict was delivered and they were each asked if they agreed.
“I've known her since she was a little girl. We grew up in the church together,” said Rupert Claridge. “She was just good people. The kind of friend you want.”
“I understand that Aleta Rhodes should not have died like this,” said defense lawyer Joel Perez, “but it's their job to get the right guy.”
Defense lawyers said the state leaned too heavily on the word of a convicted armed robber — Depue's brother Eric Depue, who was the driver that night.
Eric Depue said he'd looked after his little brother, said defense lawyer Ray Fuchs, “yet five minutes with the detective (and) he's giving him up.”
Eric Depue cut a deal with the state to testify against his brother, and he faces 15 years to life in prison for aggravated robbery. He said his brother and the other men told him they were targeting a house on the next street.
Rhodes' friend Claridge said he is less concerned with the punishment phase of the trial that begins today in Judge Philip Kazen's 227th District Court. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
“We want him off the streets, but the death penalty's not going to bring back Aleta,” he said.
Ruben Daniel Montoya, also charged with capital murder, is still awaiting trial, while two other men are still under investigation.