Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tell me a story

His stories appeared to have changed frequently.

Not a good sign for him.


Trial starts in store owners death
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News

Christopher Rosales sat hunched over in a police station interrogation room, his face buried in his forearms — handcuffs visible — and began to cry.

“I grabbed the baseball bat,” the 22-year-old told detectives through a heavy stutter in a video that was played for a Bexar County jury Wednesday during the first day of testimony in his murder trial. “I hit him over and over and over again.”

The June 2007 confession was obtained days after local business owner John Florez, 66, was found bludgeoned to death inside Videos Mexicanos in the 900 block of Ruiz Street. But, that wasn't the end of Rosales' startling confession.

After being told his co-defendant Matthew Gravlin also confessed to the crime, Rosales recanted his initial statements and claimed he was merely a spectator to Florez's fatal beating. Rosales argued his 20-year-old friend was the one who killed Florez, striking the storeowner up to 20 times with a baseball bat, to teach the victim a lesson.

Rosales pleaded not guilty to Florez's slaying Wednesday in the 379th District Court. His co-defendant, Gravlin, remains in jail, awaiting his own murder trial.

During opening statements, prosecutors Miguel Najera and Ashley Botard told jurors they would see a “dark and disturbing picture” of how Florez died.

Both of Rosales' attorneys, Suzanne Kramer and Brian Smith, declined to give an opening statement Wednesday.

Gravlin and Rosales were both homeless and, on occasion, would live and work at the store. After beating Florez, they took money from the store's cash register and ran, Najera said.

Prosecutors promised to call to the witness stand several women to whom Rosales allegedly confessed, and said they'd provide DNA evidence of his involvement.

“Here it is right here,” Rosales said in the confession video, pointing to spots on his pants he claimed was blood from the victim.

Rosales initially told investigators he attacked Florez, who was gay, because the businessman hit on him and insulted his mother.

“He came on to me over and over again,” he said in the video. “I just got sick of it ... That's the whole reason why I (expletive) killed him. I'm not gay.”

But he later changed his story, saying Florez always respected his sexuality.

He said he accompanied Gravlin to the store the day Florez was killed, but didn't think his friend would resort to violence. Rosales said his friend was upset that Florez had recently kicked him out of the store and wanted to confront the victim about it.

After detectives left the interrogation room, the video camera captured Rosales giving a soliloquy in which he appeared to be talking to himself, describing himself as an accessory to murder, but not the main instigator. His stutter disappeared, a detective later noted.