Cop killer's family members testify

May 14, 2008 4:11:06 PM PDT
On Wednesday, the family of a man who killed a Houston police officer asked the jury to spare his life. Juan Quintero faces the death penalty for killing Houston police Officer Rodney Johnson. Quintero showed no emotion as his mother poured her heart out in court Wednesday. Juana Quintero testified her children hid the truth from her and her husband out of concern for their health. The eldest son finally told her the truth at her grandson's birthday.

"He informed us that his situation was difficult and that he murdered a policeman," she testified.

"Does this change the way you feel about your son?" the defense asked.

Her answer: "No, not at all. He's my son. I'm always going to love him."

While the jury rejected Quintero's insanity defense, his attorneys are using testimony from family members to suggest growing up with an abusive father who drank too much scarred him emotionally and taught him to be fearful, yet rebellious towards authority.

His younger brother, Tomas, told the jury: "When he was scolded. He would faint. He was more rebellious. Instead of changing his attitude, he would do the contrary."

As close as Quintero and his siblings were, prosecutors wondered what exactly did they know about his life in the US?

"Did he tell you he was deported?" asked the prosecutor.

Tomas Quintero answered, "Yes."

"Did he tell you he plead guilty to indecency with a child?"

Again, Tomas answered "yes."

"Why did he come back to the U.S. after he was deported?" asked the prosecutor.

"He loved his family, his daughters," said Tomas. "He couldn't be without them. He raised his daughters since they were young. He couldn't live without them."

There was quite a bit of sparring between prosecutors and one of the wtinessess called by the defense. It's over a recorded jailhouse conversation between Quintero and that defense witness. That witness allegedly told Quintero that if he could get him on the jury, he would be able to get him off. Defense attorneys then asked the judge to declare a mistrial on grounds they never received a copy of that material. The judge denied that request.

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