He spent 25 years in Mexico, hiding from the law. Now, Margarito Hernandez is in a Plainview jail. The alleged killer, now 83-years-old, turned himself in to El Paso authorities last week. This week, Hale County officials formally charged him with murder.
Frail, feeble and reportedly in poor health, 83-year-old Margarito Hernandez made his way into the Hale County courthouse with the help of a cane and a sheriff's deputy. We asked him why he gave himself up. "Because I was starving in Mexico," says Hernandez.
His response, barely audible, yet easily understood. Perhaps a clear indication that the 83-year-old didn't turn himself in because of overwhelming guilt, but rather for the state prison system's three square meals a day and medical care.
Across town, the victim's family members are shocked by this week's sequence of events. "We are all glad in a way, but it opens wounds we thought were closed," says the victim's son Lupe Ruiz.
Hernandez is accused of killing Lupe's mother, Georgia. Lupe has little sympathy for the ailing Hernandez. "No. No. Why should I? He didn't care when he pulled the trigger," says Lupe Ruiz.
Hernandez will now go on trial for the December 1978 murder of Georgia Ruiz. "I wanna know why he killed her," says Georgia's widower Eliodoro Ruiz.
Prosecutors do too. And they say Hernandez's age, and the age of the case, are obstacles, but surmountable. "Murder is murder. And we're not gonna let it go," says Hale and Swisher County First Assistant DA Mark Hocker.
"Hopefully this is the first step in bringing closure to the family," says Plainview Chief of Police William Mull.
Eliodoro Ruiz says he wants an eye for an eye. "Do you think he should be put to death? 'Yes," says Ruiz.
Hernandez told Hale County Judge Kaye Phillips he hasn't worked in three years and has no money to pay for a defense. On Friday afternoon, Hale County appointed a public defender to the case. Hernandez's bond is set at $100,000.