Both sides rest case in officer death trial

June 2, 2010 3:29:12 PM PDT
Closing arguments could begin as soon as Thursday in the trial of two people accused of killing a Houston police officer. It's happening nearly one year after the shooting death of Officer Henry Canales. Both sides Wednesday afternoon have rested in the trial and they are working on the charge. Each side will have about 90 minutes to make their case in front of the jury during closing arguments.

They were hoping to get to closing arguments on Wednesday, but testimony moved very slowly. Both Nava Maldonado and fellow defendant Xiomares Mendez Rosales are charged with murder in the death of Officer Canales.

Defense attorneys tried to humanize their clients today, first by putting on the stand the brother of Andres Nava Maldonado, followed by Nava Maldonado's common law wife. She testified that Nava Maldonado supported their four children by doing masonry work and selling items at a flea market.

But Officer Louis Garcia sees it differently. He was Officer Canales' undercover partner.

"For the way this thing ended, it's not so much 'let's do the deal' and everybody goes on their way. At the end, it's taken by force," said Officer Garcia.

The defense maintains that on the night of the shooting, Nava Maldonado and Mendez Rosales were only prepared to buy some stolen televisions, nothing more. Defense attorneys contend that so far the evidence points to their clients having no idea that the third suspect, Roberto Carrillo, was going to shoot an undercover officer. Carrillo was also shot and killed that night.

"Everyone at the scene was dressed like a criminal would be and acted as a criminal would. And so I think the jury got a better understanding of what was on their mind as they fled," said defense attorney Bob Loper.

Defense attorneys admit it will be tough to convince the jury, especially with police officers being a consistent presence in the courtroom.

For Officer Garcia, he says the entire trial has been emotionally draining because he left Officer Canales just shortly before the sting went bad.

"To my regret, I wish I stayed. I believe I could have made a difference and should have made a difference," Officer Garcia said.

Police interview with defendant played in court

Members of the jury spent most of Wednesday morning watching a video of a police interview between an investigator and defendant Nava Maldonado.

Defense attorneys spent the last day and a half trying to portray the two defendants as simply trying to buy stolen televisions. They say they did not realize Carrillo and Officer Canales were involved in an undercover sting.

On Tuesday, jurors heard an audiotape of a 911 call placed by Mendez Rosales after the shooting. The defense says the tape shows that she was in fear for her life and trying to get away from robbers.

Prosecutors have tried to poke holes in that defense, saying the two defendants knew exactly what they were doing and were integrally involved in the transaction that led to Officer Canales' fatal shooting.

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

If convicted, the two defendants could face up to life in prison.


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