Friday, July 3, 2009

MURDER! they said

The jury listened and then they spoke, loudly, convincingly, and unanimously....Guilty.

Congratulations and good job to the Steves.

Steve de Lemos and Steven Harkins (a/k/a Sharkey) for trying the case and getting the conviction.

Jury: Sanchez guilty of murder

- The Herald-Zeitung

A New Braunfels man was convicted of murder Thursday for stabbing his live-in girlfriend’s brother.

A Comal County jury of eight men and four women found Edwardo Sanchez, 26, guilty of driving a knife through 37-year-old Fernando Ortegon’s heart and back, killing him in the early morning hours in March 2008.

The punishment phase of the trial is being reset for 207th District Judge Jack Robison to decide. The trial date is not set at this time.

Sanchez faces from five to 99 years in prison.

Ortegon was found lying dead on the 1100 block of Winston Avenue in the Walnut Mobile Home Community off Interstate 35 frontage road near Walnut Street. Officers responding to the aggravated assault call on March 23, 2008, at about 1 a.m. found Ortegon with two stab wounds.

Witnesses at the scene — including Ortegon’s sister and Sanchez’s girlfriend, Oralia Alvarado — told police that Sanchez stabbed Ortegon during a heated argument.

Alvarado told police Sanchez had taken her identification, a debit card and cash from her house where they were drinking with friends earlier that evening. He left with the items and headed to a friend’s house on Winston Avenue.

Ortegon and Alvarado followed Sanchez and confronted him, demanding the debit card and identification. That’s when Sanchez stabbed Ortegon, Alvarado said.

Defense Attorney Joseph Garcia III told the jury Thursday Sanchez acted out of self defense.

“Now we have to determine when does the fear set in and when does panic become the operating word of the day,” Garcia said in his closing arguments. “Edwardo has to face the music for what he did, but what he did was borne out of fear for Fernando Ortegon.”

He asked the jury to give Sanchez a lesser conviction, such as criminally negligent homicide.

“Was it reckless? Probably. Was it negligent? Probably,” Garcia said. “Was he trying to protect himself? Clearly in his mind... We believe it was not murder. We believe he was acting in self defense.”

Comal County Assistant District Attorney Steve de Lemos said Sanchez clearly stabbed Ortegon on purpose.

“This man used his knife to kill an unarmed man for no justifiable reason,” de Lemos said. “And then he ran like a rabbit, hid under ... (a trailer) and hid his knife, clear and simple.”

Sanchez remained stoic, his head drooping downward as the verdict was translated into his headphones.

“I think that the jury did a good job,” de Lemos said. “This was a case where the victim was murdered violently and ruthlessly.”

Testimony in the case began Monday and closing arguments were heard around 10 a.m. Thursday.