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In the Courtroom Blog: Daniel Villegas and Christian Martinez trials

Innocence, insanity and disbelief

By: Melissa Gundersen
It was a busy day in the courthouse. Daniel Villegas was in court to hear whether the District Attorney's Office will drop his capital murder charge or retry his case. A 23-year-old El Paso man also started trial for allegedly murdering a mother and daughter and then attempting to commit suicide in their home back in 2011. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Let's start with Daniel Villegas. I've had the opportunity to speak with him and his family on numerous occasions and know this was a day they've been anxiously waiting for. The outcome, however, is not what the family wanted to hear. A new trial date has been set for May 28.Yet this isn't set in stone, because attorneys are scheduled to meet again next month to discuss what they will do.

In my opinion, charges should be dropped. Here's why -- Villegas has already had nine appeals judges decide to give him a second chance, Judge Medrano said he deserves a second chance, the jury foreman that convicted him said if he had heard all of the evidence, he wouldn't have convicted him. One witness even said Villegas wasn't the shooter.

Throughout this whole fight, though, it amazes me how nice and trusting Villegas appears to remain. Every time I've spoken to him, he has been nothing but down-to-earth and extremely welcoming.

I'm interested to see what will happen next month.

Now let's talk about the Christian Martinez trial. He's just 23. It always shocks me when I see such a young person on trial and know they may miss out on life. That said, the crime Martinez is accused of is very heinous and I think forgiveness would be nearly impossible.

He's accused of stabbing and killing a 58-year-old mother and her 20-year-old daughter.

Here's the shocker there's no motive.

Martinez's defense attorney, Joe Spencer, told the jury Martinez has a "broken brain" and wasn't aware of his "conduct." Spencer said Martinez was on his way to his girlfriend's house when the 20-year-old daughter jogged passed him. Martinez then supposedly wanted to commit suicide so he allegedly followed the daughter into her home, stabbed her and her mother a total of 107 times and then attempted to saw off his hand and bleed to death.

Spencer is trying the case, saying because of Martinez's mental state, he should still be found "not guilty."

When I hear stories like this, I think what if that happened to my sister and mother? I wouldn't care if the person had mental issues or not, if they had a tough upbringing or not. I would just want that person put away.

I guess I'll have to silence my opinions until I hear all of the testimony.

The state will start calling their first witnesses tomorrow at 9 a.m.

Jurors will hear from more than 35 witnesses and I'm told the trial could last for about two weeks.

Here's another interesting fact about the case District Attorney Jaime Esparza was sworn in and could be called as a witness. Conflict of interest? Possibly.



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