The Case of the Wheelchair Bound Murder
Attorney Gerald Bourque represented Arnoldo Torres, who was charged, along with two Co-Defendants, with a non-death Capital Murder case. The State alleged that Torres and two other males, who were illegally in the country from Mexico, went to one of Torres’ neighbors’ apartment in order to rob him.
Allegedly, the three entered the apartment and attacked the victim, who was wheelchair bound, stabbing him to death. The State alleged that Torres held the victim while one of the Co-Defendants stabbed him. The maintenance man from the complex told police he saw all three Co-Defendants running from the victim’s apartment after he had been stabbed.
The Police Investigation
The police investigation determined that the victim had a dispute with the two Mexican nationals over a narcotics transaction. One of the complex residents, named Rachel, who had been dating one of the Mexican nationals, gave conflicting stories regarding Torres’ involvement. Rachel also gave conflicting statements regarding seeing the three Co-Defendants at the victim’s apartment.
Rachel’s juvenile son claimed he saw the incident through the window, observing Torres holding a pocket knife to the victim’s throat. The boy also told police he saw one of the Mexican nationals stab the victim.
Gradoni Investigators Get on The Case
Investigator Edna Velez interviewed the maintenance man, who advised that he believed the altercation was over Rachel because the victim and one of the Mexican nationals wanted to date her. The maintenance man also stated that the victim had heavy drapes over all of the windows in his apartment and it was not possible for anyone to see inside.
Edna Velez conducted a follow-up interview with the maintenance man, who again stated that the victim had all of his front windows and his back window covered with comforters. The maintenance man stated that he was positive on the night of the incident the comforters were still in place, blocking the view into the apartment. The maintenance man also stated he did not see the juvenile boy or Rachel near the apartment of the victim that evening.
The maintenance man verified that he had a clear view of all of the activity in the courtyard that night because he was having a birthday party for his son and he could clearly see the front door of the victim at all times. The maintenance man’s testimony was crucial, since it disputed the juvenile eyewitness version of events.
Houston Attorney Gerald Bourque Proceeds
Gerald Bourque learned that, after we had interviewed the maintenance man, he was visited by the Prosecutor. We had known all along that the maintenance man was here in the country illegally. J.J. Gradoni and Gerald Bourque interviewed the maintenance man for the third time. The maintenance man told us that he had visited with the Prosecutor and the only part of his previous statement to the Defense Investigators was the possibility that someone could look into the victim’s window and that he most likely was mistaken about them being covered up.
The defense team had located Rachel and her son, living in Vidor, TX. JJ Gradoni traveled to their residence in order to obtain a statement from Rachel as to what occurred the evening of the incident. Rachel admitted dating one of the Mexican nationals and discounted that the fight was over her; stating that it was her belief it was over drugs, alleging that the victim had been buying drugs from one of the Mexican nationals and owed him money over recent deals.
Rachel denied seeing the three Defendants enter the victim’s apartment but claimed she saw them later in the courtyard. Rachel denied access to her son for an interview, but did say he had witnessed the entire incident through the window.
During the trial Gerald Bourque was able to show the jury that the maintenance man had changed his testimony each time someone interviewed him and alluded to the fact that he was being supportive of the Prosecution because he had a fear of being deported. Gerald also pointed out to the jury that the crime scene photographs of the interior of the apartment indicated that the windows actually were covered.
The juvenile’s story then changed, during his testimony, saying that he made the observations because the door was open. The two Mexican nationals had fled the country and were never arrested. The jury found Torres guilty of the lesser offense of Aggravated Robbery, assessing a 35 year sentence.
RESULT BASED ON INVESTIGATION: Capital Murder Charges Reduced to Aggravated Robbery