Quintero convicted of murder; family reacts

May 8, 2008 9:17:48 PM PDT
Juan Quintero is now a convicted cop killer. And the family of slain HPD Officer Rodney Johnson is waiting to hear if the man who murdered him will live or die. It took a Harris County jury about six hours to find Quintero guilty Thursday.

It was the moment Officer Johnson's family had waited nearly two years for.

"We the jury find Juan Leonardo Quintero guilty of capital murder as charged in the indictment," said Judge Joan Campbell, while reading the verdict.

While the 34-year-old convicted killer showed no emotion, his attorney, paid for by the Mexican government, appeared as if she was trying to console him. Meantime, Johnson's family shared a warm embrace.

For Susan Johnson, sister of the slain officer, Thursday's verdict means her family is one step closer to healing.

"It's been a long one," she said. "We've been waiting a long time, too long."

For nearly two weeks, the Johnson family sat in court, forced to relive their pain as they sat listening to testimony that was often times graphic. Officer Johnson's mother, who until yesterday had been shielded from that, says Quintero's family has suffered too.

"I feel sorry for them, I do," said Cynthia Johnson. "It hurts me because if my son had done something that bad, it would kill me. It would kill me."

Quintero's family, including his mother and two stepdaughters, had nothing to say about the verdicts as they left the courthouse.

While Officer Johnson's widow is keeping quiet, too, her smile after the verdict was read says it all.

Houston police Officer Gary Blankinship, a family friend, says justice has been served.

"It's partial closure," he said. "We need to work towards finishing the job. It's one more step in the road to closure."

Quintero will be back in court Tuesday, at which time the jury will decide whether he lives or dies. We did not hear from Officer Johnson's widow after the guilty verdict was announced. She's expected to speak publicly after Tuesday's sentencing.

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