Jury Convicts Lubbock Man Of First Degree Murder - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/22/07

Jury Convicts Lubbock Man Of First Degree Murder

Source: Lubbock Co. Sheriff's Dept. Source: Lubbock Co. Sheriff's Dept.

A Lubbock man now faces up to life in prison. This after a jury found Benny Cole guilty of murder in the February stabbing death of his roommate, Gabriel Herrera.

That verdict was handed down just before 2:00 Wednesday afternoon and brought tears to Herrera's family and close friends. However, those we spoke with say while the ruling provides closure it won't bring Gabriel back into their lives.

"Our whole family is very satisfied with the verdict and everything the district attorney has done for us," Herrera's sister Patricia Gaitan said.

After three hours of deliberation on Wednesday, a Lubbock jury finds Benny Cole, 57, guilty of killing his roommate Gabriel Herrera.

"We never knew exactly what happened that night, and this kind of brings insight. And we know what happened and now someone is actually at least going to get punishment for what they did," Herrera's brother Josh Schwartz said.

Cole testified that he was in bed when his roommate, Herrera, came in and kicked him two or three times then grabbed him by the neck. Apparently, it was over shoes and rent money. Cole said he pulled a knife out to cut Herrera and free himself.

But prosecutors said Cole was waiting to stab Herrera when he walked into the his bedroom.

"We would have presented this case to them if we didnt' feel that way. So I think the ultimate out come, while this case is not over the right thing was done today," assistant Criminal District Attorney Tray Payne said. 

"The hardest area to overcome is whether or not the level of the action against the defendant was sufficient to allow him to use deadly force in response to. That seemed to be the issue in this case," Coles' defense attorney Kerry Piper said.

A jury decided self-defense didn't apply. A verdict that the Herrera family says brings closure but does not fill the void.

"It's empty. He's not here. Just sitting here right now and all of us are here, but he's not," Gaitan said.

Cole remains in the Lubbock County Jail. He is expected to be sentenced within the next month and faces up to life in prison.

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