Defense presenting case in officer death trial

June 1, 2010 3:23:50 PM PDT
It was another dramatic day of testimony in the trial of two people charged in the murder of Houston Police Officer Henry Canales, who was killed while working undercover nearly one year ago. Xiomara Mendez Rosales and Andres Nava Maldonado are being tried together. They were both there the night Officer Canales was shot and killed in a sting operation last June.

Defense attorneys have contended all along that their clients were simply trying to buy some stolen televisions and that they had no idea it was all part of a larger undercover police sting. That's the side of the story they began presenting on Tuesday.

On Thursday, jurors heard the 911 call made by one of the suspects immediately after the shooting.

The defense began presenting its case by starting with the 911 audiotape, saying it proves their assertion that the two defendants had no idea they were involved in an undercover police sting.

Family and friends of Officer Canales filed into to court for the third week of trial. The day began with the defense playing a 911 call made by Xiomara Mendez Rosales and Andres Nava Maldonado moments after Officer Canales was gunned down by a third suspect, Roberto Carrillo.

In the call, Mendez Rosales exclaims to Nava Maldonado, "They're going to catch us here! Please, look, they're following us, we're going towards the freeway. They're going to kill us here!"

Defense attorney Casey Kiernan explained, "The objective was to let the jury feel and hear what these people were feeling at the time. There was a lot of shooting and people that they were thinking they were trying to shoot them. They didn't think they were the police."

Defense attorneys say since Officer Canales was undercover, their clients were simply thinking they were being robbed and were caught up in a gunfight between other criminals. It's the theory they pushed while questioning Officer Ruben Lopez on the stand. Lopez, also undercover that night, testified that he shot Carrillo in the back and barely avoided getting shot himself.

"Officer Lopez was not dressed in raid gear, or police gear, he was a person undercover pretending to be a crook," said Kiernan.

Prosecutors wouldn't talk on camera to us, but in court they tried to paint the picture that no matter what 911 calls were made, at the end of the day, Mendez Rosales and Nava Maldonado were committing a felony by buying stolen TVs and that act eventually caused Officer Canales' death.

Late Thursday afternoon, the defense also called to the stand an interpreter to refute some of the translations of Officer Canales' undercover recordings presented by the prosecution last week.

This is the eighth day of the trial, which is expected to last about three weeks.


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