Suniga to be executed for Lubbock murder, victim's father forgives him
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A Lubbock County jury has sentenced Brian Suniga to death for the murder of 26-year-old David Rowser II in December 2011.
The prosecution said Suniga fatally shot Rowser during a robbery at the One Guy From Italy restaurant on 50th Street, where Rowser was an employee.
The prosecution asked the jury to consider three questions as they went into deliberations: Will this defendant be a future danger? Was the defendant responsible for the death? Is there sufficient evidence to warrant life over death?
In the defense's closing statement, they told the jury that Suniga was raised by a single mother who was rarely home because she was working, and the males in Suniga's life were consumed by alcohol and drugs. The defense said bad influences and a lack of good role models made Suniga the man he is today.
The prosecution did not agree.
"It's an insult to every single mom, every single parent who has raised kids in horrible circumstances and horrible environments and their kids turn out to be great. We had folks on our jury who had been in that situation and so I think it falls on deaf ears when you say that's the reason. I think you are almost trying to excuse that behavior," said prosecutor in this case District Attorney Matt Powell.
The defense asked the jury if they would hold out a hand of hope, or if they would take Suniga down a road of destruction by sentencing him to death.
"That was offensive to me because this jury doesn't have anything to do with his road to destruction. He had everything to do with his road to destruction. This jury is simply the one that is going to hold him accountable for that road, and so that jury can take pride in the fact that they are protecting their community and they are going to continue to protect the community that this man will go into," Powell said in an interview following the trial.
The defense argued that Suniga had no choice in what family he was born into and while they agree that Suniga must be responsible for his actions, the defense also told the jury, "You don't have to kill him to punish him."
The prosecution said Suniga would still be a threat to society if he was given life in prison without parole. They told the jury that he was a threat to other inmates, guards and anyone else he would come into contact with in the prison system.
Powell told the jury the only way to ensure Suniga could not hurt anyone ever again is by sentencing him to death.
After just more than two hours of deliberation, the jury sentenced Suniga to death by lethal injection.
The courtroom filled with tears, both from the Rowser and Suniga's families.
Rowser's mother, Sherry Pennington, took the stand and said, "As I struggle with the horror and tragedy of the night of December 26th, 2011, one realization that is quite clear in my heart and mind is that if Davey could have chosen where to take his last breath on this earth, he would have chosen exactly where he was - in his brother's arms."
Pennington spoke more about who Davey was and how close he was with his younger brother.
Pennington then looked right at Suniga and said, "This man, filled with evil intentions, took my child's life because of his desire to be in control of life and death."
She said she knows her son Davey is in Heaven and while she knows she will see him again, it "doesn't remove the need for justice and punishment of the man who took his life."
Pennington looked at Suniga and told him, "Davey isn't suffering, but you will. Davey has the blessings of God but you have God's curse and judgement. Davey has streets of gold, but you have bars of steel. Davey is known and remembered for his goodness, but you will forever known and remembered for your evil and unlawful acts. May God bring to your mind each and every day how great my son Davey was in this life and cause you to feel shame and deep nothingness for the life you chose to live and for what you chose to do to David Eric Rowser II, Jonathan Scott Rowser and to his father and to me and to all his family and friends on December 26, 2011."
Rowser's father also took the stand and told Suniga that he would forgive him because God told him to. He also told Suniga that if he asked God for forgiveness, God would give it to him.
While this trial has ended another will soon begin. Suniga's cousin and co-defendant in this case, Sesilio Lopez Junior, also faces a capital murder charge. Powell said they will determine what route to take with this case in the next few weeks.
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