Andrew Ray Flores and Anthony Reyes Serena were found guilty of murder by a District Court jury Thursday night as the cries of a woman echoed through the chamber.
The jury returned its verdict at 6:50 p.m. to a packed courtroom after more than four hours of deliberation.
The two men were on trial for the murder of Lupe Garcia on Oct. 19, 2017. They were charged with capital murder since it was alleged that the murder was perpetrated during the commission or attempted commission of a robbery. The jury found them guilty on the lesser charge of murder.
The jury received the case about 2:33 p.m. following the testimony of the prosecution's final witness and closing statements. Within 30 minutes, a note was sent to the judge requesting a list of exhibits. Instead of the list, all exhibits were taken to the jury when a second request for the exhibits was presented. Judge Jack W. Marr said if one exhibit was asked for all had to be taken into the jury room.
At 5:50 p.m., a second note was sent to the judge asking if a verdict needed to be reached Thursday night or if the jury could reconvene in the morning to continue deliberations.
Keith Weiser, the attorney for Serena, asked that the jury be instructed to stay until a verdict was reached.
“Then, that’s what we’re going to do,” said Marr.
Earlier that morning, the prosecution rested its case after Assistant District Attorney Shannon Sayler decided not to call one more witness following a voir dire. Weiser rested without calling any defense witnesses after consultation with Serena. Joseph Garza, representing Flores, also rested without calling any witnesses.
During closing arguments for the prosecution, Assistant District Attorney Sara Rodriguez compared the job the jury needed to do to a puzzle being put together.
"When my daughter starts a puzzle, I can't tell what it is, but as more pieces are placed into it I can start to see what it is even without all the pieces," Rodriguez said.
"Not all the pieces of the case have to be there for you to see what exactly happened," she said and asked the jury to return a verdict of guilty on capital murder.
Weiser went next and pushed on the evidence during his closing statement.
He reminded the jury that they were to base all their decisions on the evidence; not on sympathy or belief.
Garza, in his closing statement, took the jury back over the evidence and said, “it is not enough to convict.”
The last witness to testify was Angel Trevino, who lived across the hall from Garcia at the time of the incident.
Trevino testified that he and his nephew returned home from working in Rockport that night between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Trevino testified that he had been sick and while his nephew showered, he took his prescribed medications and fell asleep.
Trevino then testified that he was awakened by a gunshot and "banging" before his door crashed open, and a man fell into his room on top of Garcia.
"He was face down on Lupe, and we got a look at each other. He pushed off and ran. I followed to try and catch him," testified Trevino. He said he got a good look but, when asked by the defense, did not identify either Flores or Serena as the man.
When asked if he as shown a photo lineup, Trevino said, "I was, but it was pouring rain, and he (Port Lavaca Police Detective Marion Hetherington) was putting the photos on the truck."
Trevino said he abandoned the pursuit at the main door because he realized he needed to get help for Garcia. The person he was chasing had already disappeared into the rain.
He then testified that he went back, and someone else had called 911 and Emergency Medical Services.
During cross-examination, Weiser asked about a friend of Trevino's ex-wife and whether he knew her son, Serena. Trevino said he had known the woman about 11 years but never met her son.
The sentencing phase of the trial begins at 9 a.m. Friday.