Friday morning, the state continued the prosecution of Ruben Garcia in the capital murder trial. He is charged with two counts of murder for killing Rudy Vela and Jessica Hernandez.
Officer Steve Farley was questioned about his involvement with the investigation. He said he was called to the scene to help process the evidence in the early morning hours after the stabbing occurred. He assisted in processing the outside of the home only. He photographed numerous locations, including the outside of the home and the alley in the back of the home.
The prosecution presented a series of photos that Farley had taken of evidence at the scene. Such photos depicted items such as beer cans and full and empty bags of marijuana that had apparent blood splatters on them. The bags were found in the alley and in the dumpster.
He went on to explain how he traced a trail of blood about five or six blocks. The trail led him from the alley, down a sidewalk and to a neighbor's homes. Blood was also found on the back of a white Saturn.
Farley stated that the many drops of blood that he found were very small and that the blood on the car was concentrated more heavily. Additionally, he said he saw a larger splatter of blood on an area of the sidewalk that he thought to be where the defendant was arrested. Photos were presented of all the evidence.
Officer Thornburry took the stand next. He was asked to take photos of the victims at UMC. He stated that he had no involvement or prior knowledge of the case before he was called to the hospital. Photos were presented of Ruben Garcia's wounds, including lacerations on his head and hands. He stated that Garcia came in fairly bloody.
Larry Manale was the last officer to take the stand. He stated that he was present for the autopsy of the two victims. He verified that nothing was tampered with between the medical examiners and the scene.
Forensic scientist Steven Hester discussed his involvement with identifying the pieces of DNA and the prosecution has called him an expert on DNA comparison. He has verified DNA from the victims. He verified that it was extremely probable that the DNA found from swabs of the knife, door, car and his left shoe matched that of Ruben Garcia.
Homicide detective Rene Martinez said that when he originally questioned the defendant, they had the following exchange.
"What am I charged with?" Garcia asked.
"Murder," Martinez said.
"Who died?" Garcia asked.
"Rudy Vela," Martinez said.
"I need an attorney," Garcia said.
Martinez also read from the defendants original statement. It talks about the fight and what led up to it. According to Martinez, Garcia said, "They came at me and I felt a knife and I grabbed it and started stabbing away ... I don't know who I stabbed, I was just stabbing,"
The detective said Garcia's statement was not consistent with the blood evidence. He said it was an extremely blood scene.
There was a lot of talk about the lacerations on the webbing of the defendant's hands. The detective said injuries like that were commonly caused by the knife slipping because of the amount of blood and cutting the hand while the stabbing took place.
He also talked about how he believes the defendant went out the front door and was in the yard yelling, "Who wants some more? Who wants to get stabbed?"
And that point Martinez said he thinks Jessica Hernandez tried to close the door from the inside, a fact suggested by a hand print on the inside of the door. He stated he believed she was stabbed in the doorway because that's where her body was found, but there are no witnesses to her death.
After a lunch recess, the prosecution called homicide detective Rene Martinez to the stand. He was called to the scene after midnight and questioned the defendant in the hospital. Martinez said that Garcia asked what he was being charged with and when Martinez told him murder, he said "who died?"
Martinez proceeded to read Garcia's original statement which said:
"They came at me, and I felt a knife and I grabbed it and started stabbing away... I don't know who I stabbed, I was just stabbing".
Martinez added that Garcia's statement was not consistent with the evidence found on the scene. There was also a lot of talk about the lacerations on Garcia's hands. Martinez said that he believed they were from the knife slipping out of his hand due to the large amount of blood that was on the knife, and cutting his hand.
Lubbock's chief medical examiner, Sridhar Natarajan was the last to testify. He presented a series of graphic autopsy photos to the jury and explained the numerous stabbing wounds in detail. He stated that both the deaths could be ruled as homicides and that the cause of death was stab wounds to the chest.
The court let out around 4:45 and will proceed Monday morning at 8:30. The prosecution has yet to rest.
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