LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A third man found guilty of being involved in a 2017 aggravated robbery of Picantes Restaurant has been sentenced to 45 years in prison.
Phillip Marcelino Velazquez, who is now 29 years old, was found guilty of aggravated robbery on April 5. The jury deliberated for two and a half hours.
Velazquez, who is from Spring Valley, California, has been in the Lubbock County Detention Center since May 3, 2017.
Police say three suspects entered the restaurant at approximately 8:40 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2017. One of the suspects had a gun and told everybody to get on the ground while demanding money and personal property. After taking items from the restaurant, the employees and the patrons, the three suspects quickly left the scene.
Police identified Damian Villarreal, Joseph Gonzales, Jr. and Phillip Marcelino Velazquez as suspects in the case.
During opening statements, the prosecution said three men entered and robbed seven people at the restaurant. It took less than two minutes. The three men had their faces covered and the victims were terrified. The seven had guns placed to their heads or chest. The prosecutor said shortly after this robbery, a Crime Line tip came and in and Velasquez immediately became a suspect. However not one victim has been able to identify Velazquez as a suspect. The person who identified him was his sister, who identified him after watching video from the robbery.
“You will hear that he and another defendant are brothers and they are always together and they even live together. You will see the video of the car drive down the alley then park and a few minutes later leave very quickly. The one thing that the victims can tell you is that the suspect had a tattoo under his left eye just like this defendant,” the prosecutor said.
Velazquez’s attorney said there is no dispute the crime occurred, but the only thing they got wrong is that Phillip didn’t do it. “There is no evidence, no eye witness. The victim that called 911 says the tattoo was a cross under his left eye. Yes, he has a tattoo, but it is of numbers, which could not be mistaken for a cross. She said she had been robbed before so she was paying attention to details to help identify any suspects.”
The defense attorney, Nick Olgen, said despite what the state is trying to portray, Phillip and his sister are not close and couldn’t even spell his first or last name when they interviewed her. Olgen said Villarreal has recanted his statements about that night and who was involved. He said there were other suspects police did not interview because “they had tunnel vision and believed they had their man.”
In 2019, Joseph Gonzalez Jr of Lubbock was sentenced to 60 years for the aggravated robbery of Picantes Restaurant.
In September 2020, Damian Villareal was sentenced to 30 years after taking a plea deal for his involvement in the 2017 aggravated robbery of Picantes Restaurant and a separate 2020 Lubbock kidnapping. Damian Villareal was sentenced to 30 years for the aggravated robbery and 10 years for the aggravated kidnapping. The sentences will run concurrently.