Friday, August 03, 2007

Such Choreography, Scripted or Encrypted Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Benavides and Vela (I. BACKGROUND)

On the morning of August 9, 2003, Albert Benitez was in his garage apartment with Reynolds, his girlfriend. Suddenly the couple heard a loud thumping on the door. Benitez opened the door to encounter a man, later identified as Franciso Perez, pointing a gun at him and asking if he was Albert. Benitez slammed the door and yelled for Reynolds to call 911.

At trial, Benitez testified for the State that he held the door closed as Perez rammed into it for a few minutes. After the ramming ended, Benitez continued to hold the door until he was shot from behind by Perez. Benitez believed Perez had entered the garage apartment through Benitez's parents' attached house. Perez shot Benitez two more times before Benitez ran outside. Benitez ran into an entrance of his parent's adjoining house to find a phone and call 911. Perez chased Benitez into his parents' house and shot him for the fourth time in the kitchen. Benitez testified that he ran to the back porch and was shot a fifth time. After being shot for the fifth time, Benitez lost his balance and fell off the porch. Perez then shot him a sixth time. Benitez ran to another area outside the house and saw Perez and Reynolds slowly driving away in Benitez's green Crown Victoria.

Benitez called 911, and the police arrived. He told the officers that he had never seen Perez before, but he was able to give the officers a description. He told them that Perez had kidnaped his girlfriend and that the two were traveling in Benitez's Crown Victoria.

Later that morning, Reynolds approached Kingsville Police Officer John Greif in the parking lot of the Kingsville police station. Officer Greif testified for the State that Reynolds approached him crying, yelling, and claiming she needed help. Reynolds told him her boyfriend had been shot and that she was abducted at gunpoint by the shooter and forced to drive to Kingsville. Reynolds also told Officer Greif that the shooter jumped out of the vehicle on the highway at a speed of between 55 and 70 mph.

Officer Ted Figueroa participated in the conversation between Reynolds and Officer Greif. Officer Figueroa testified Reynolds seemed upset but was not crying. He further testified that she appeared to be shaking, but when asked a question, she would stop and answer it. When asked to give a description of the shooter, Reynolds told the officers she did not know what he looked like because he was wearing a ski mask. Officer Figueroa asked Reynolds if her boyfriend had gotten any help and Reynolds told him that she did not know; she did not mention placing a 911 call. Officer Figueroa then went to the section of the highway where Reynolds said the suspect had jumped from the vehicle, but he did not find any evidence to indicate anyone had jumped from a moving vehicle.

Texas Ranger Oscar Rivera questioned Reynolds about the shooting and testified about her responses. According to Ranger Rivera, Reynolds phoned 911 from Benitez's parents' kitchen shortly after hearing gunshots. After dialing 911, Reynolds threw the phone on the kitchen table and ran towards the garage apartment yelling for Benitez. Unable to find him, she walked outside and was taken hostage. However, Ranger Rivera testified that there was no record that Reynolds had ever placed a call to 911 and that even if she had hung up after placing a call, there would be a call record. Ranger Rivera also testified about his visit to the crime scene, observations of the bullet holes in the door, and his conclusion that based on the location of these holes, the shooter had to have been in the kitchen area of the house.

After the shooting and alleged kidnaping, Reynolds was unable to identify Perez in a line up. On a second occasion, however, when she was shown photographs, she pointed to Perez's picture and said that he kind of looked like the shooter.

Ranger Rivera testified as to certain forensic evidence and business records utilized in the investigation. He stated that a shirt Reynolds later identified as the one worn by the shooter was found approximately a half mile off the highway where Reynolds had said that the shooter had jumped from the vehicle. Ranger Rivera testified that the shirt was not damaged in any way. He also testified that he pulled Reynolds's cell phone records. During the three month time frame from July 2003 to September 2003, Reynolds made over one hundred phone calls to a number that belonged to Sara Perez. A review of Reynolds's bank accounts revealed that Reynolds transferred $2,000 to her checking account on the day of the shooting. The record also contains a $2,000 check dated August 10, 2003, the day after the shooting, written from Reynolds's checking account to Francisco Perez.

The State's final witness was Sara Perez. Ms. Perez testified she was the mother of Francisco Perez. Ms. Perez said that sometime around August 9, 2003, Reynolds called her house and asked to speak to Francisco Perez. After Ms. Perez told Reynolds that Francisco was not there, Ms. Perez testified that Reynolds told her that if a Texas Ranger came to her house, she should lie and say that she was Reynolds's maid.

After hearing the testimony and deliberating on the evidence, the jury convicted Reynolds of criminal solicitation of capital murder. After a sentencing hearing, the jury sentenced Reynolds to life in prison. The trial court entered a judgment of conviction and sentenced Reynolds to life in prison pursuant to the jury's verdict. A motion for new trial was timely filed, but denied by operation of law. (1) This appeal ensued.


Anonymous said...

This smells like bullsh/t.

Tell us the rest of the story.

The Advocate said...

Kleberg County

Officials delay trials on murder attempt

The trials of two people accused of plotting to kill a former Del Mar College professor Albert Benitez have been postponed until August to give defense attorneys more time to go over evidence, KRIS 6 News reported.

The trials for Francisco Perez, who is charged with attempted capital murder, and Elizabeth Reynolds, charged with criminal solicitation, were both set to begin on Monday.

Authorities said Benitez, who had been dating Reynolds, was shot by a masked gunman at his family's home in Kleberg County in August 2003.

The Advocate said...


New trial request denied for woman convicted of solicitation for murder

A motion for a new trial for a woman who was found guilty of solicitation of capital murder in September was denied this week in the 105th District Court in Kleberg County.

Elizabeth Reynolds filed a motion in October for a new trial claiming she received ineffective assistance of counsel during her trial on soliciting the murder of her former boyfriend, Alberto Benitez, who survived being shot several times in an incident Aug. 9, 2004.

A jury found her guilty of solicitation for murder and she was sentenced to life in prison in September.

Judge J. Manuel Banales said because Reynolds did not have a hearing regarding her request for a new trial within 75 days from the date of sentencing, her motion was denied in accordance with existing laws.

Banales said the hearing date was rescheduled once or twice by Reynolds or her attorney.

Reynolds now has 30 days from the date of the denial to file an appeal.

Adriana Garza

The Advocate said...

May 1
Arrests made in shooting of Del Mar College professor

Two people have been arrested in the shooting of a Del Mar College professor last year.

Kleberg county sheriff's deputies have arrested 29 year old Francisco Perez and 33 year old Elizabeth Reynolds on charges of attempted capital murder.

They're suspects in the shooting of professor Albert Benitez on August 9,.2003.

Benitez was shot several times while at his Kleberg county home, he returned to work last fall.

Perez' bond has been set at $100,000.

Reynolds is free on bond.

The Advocate said...

Cause Number: 0306338000-D
Case Status: Disposed
Cause of Action: DIVORCE Date Filed: 10/24/2003
Date Disposed: 01/16/2004
Documents Filed

Date Filed Entry

SERVED: 12/04/2003 FILED: 12/10/2003

04/09/2004 RULE 11 AGRMNT/GG

The Secretary of State cleared her to run.

I think these guys are going to learn a lesson or two....

from the attorney general down. The Secretary of State cleared Ms Garcia to run. If you read the AG opinion you will know what a crook this guy is when it comes to the little people. Carlos Valdez, I cant see how he would obtain Jurisdiction given there is no criminal act. This matter should be processed through existing administrative law.

A Voter Registration in Kleberg While Residing in Nueces?

The question is, which home was her domicile. I have been to her Apartment here in Corpus Christi, it sure looks like it is her primary residence.

I cannot imagine Carlos Valdez even having anything to do with this case, given his history with Mike Westergren and I am told with Joe Alaniz as well.

If Carlos Valdez prosecutes this lady, he is a fool.

I stand behind her.