Audio of undercover sting released

May 24, 2010 8:31:02 PM PDT
It was an undercover sting that ended in the murder of a Houston police officer. Now for the first time, we are hearing the audio recording of the officer's final moments. A police officer's dealings with a suspected thief were part of the audio played in court during the trial of two people accused in the murder of Officer Henry Canales. The audio also has the final moments of the officer's life, and prosecutors say the tape proves there is more to the story.

The jury had already heard the audio recordings on Friday, so they were more composed on Monday and they knew what to expect. What they did not expect was the defense to pick apart the translation of those recordings from Spanish into English. The defense called into question whether a specific phrase was ever said.

The recording was made by Officer Henry Canales through a microphone on his wristwatch. He tried to signal his undercover team the sting has happened. Just seconds later, on that June 2009 night, there was panic. Everyone begins to shout. Authorities say Roberto Carrillo thought he was being robbed and began to shoot. Another suspect, Andres Nava Maldonado, says 'shoot him.'

    Nava: "Hold on. The key. Hey!"
    Officer: "Hey, hey!"
    Carrillo: "Do you have the key or not?"
    Nava: "The money."
    Carrillo: "Do you have the key?"
    Officer: "Oh, damn."
    Nava: "Shoot him!"
    Carrillo: "Do you have the keys? Give me the money, or I'll kill you!"
That's when gunshots can be heard on the recording.

The translation from Spanish to English was done by Glen Dodson, a certified court translator, who testified he heard Nava say in Spanish, 'Shoot him.' The defense showed skepticism, asking, "Words were spoken rapidly. Were you able to tell the different voices?"

"Yes," answered Dodson.

Dodson later testified the same word for 'shoot him' could also mean 'throw it'. That's significant, says the defense, since the suspects were talking about keys at that moment.

Nava and Xiomara Mendez Rosales are charged in Canales' death, even though Roberto Carrillo, who was killed by officers, fired the shot that killed Canales. Both were there that night along with Carrillo to buy stolen TVs. The prosecution is trying to prove both defendants routinely bought and sold stolen goods.

Prosecutor Julian Ramirez asked Mendez's roommate Novia Cardona, "Do you know where Xiomara would get her tools from she would sell at the flea market?"

"Yes," answered Cardona.

"Where would she get it?" the prosecutor asked.

Cardona answered, "Two persons would come and sell them to her in a little red truck."

As for the translated audio tape, the defense has hired their own expert.

"Who's going to come down here and testify I listened to it, and I listened to the slowed down version, the enhanced version, and it's not there," said defense attorney Casey Keirnan. "The question is, how does it get past all of the HPD investigators? How does it stay out of an entire offense report until the last second?"

That expert is expected to testify on behalf of the defense later this week.

Former prosecutor Kim Ogg says the intent of the word is pivotal as the state tries to prove Nava and Mendez were responsible for Canales' murder.

"If the jury believes that one of the defendants directed the shooter to kill the policeman, then it should make a jury's job much easier because it would make that person a direct accomplice to the murder itself," Ogg said.

This is a murder case. If convicted, the defendants could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.


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