Detective testifies in officer death trial

HOUSTON Thursday was a day of surprises for the jury as they learned that one of the defendants has an extensive criminal history.

It was day two on the stand for the Houston police homicide detective who first interviewed one of the defendants in the case, Xiomara Mendez Rosales.

It didn't take long before Sgt. Robert Torres was able to find inconsistencies in Xiomara Mendez Rosales' story of what happened the night Officer Canales was shot to death. Sgt. Torres interviewed Mendez Rosales hours after that deadly shooting in June 2009.

She and Andres Nava Maldonado are being tried on murder charges and were there the night of the botched sting operation. The two defendants and a third suspect, Roberto Carrillo were buying what they thought were stolen televisions from Officer Canales. The three were the target of an undercover HPD sting operation, when Carrillo became suspicious of the officer and shot him. Both Officer Canales and Carrillo died at the scene.

Sgt. Torres testified that Mendez Rosales kept changing her story about who was negotiating the price for the stolen TVs and whether she knew Officer Canales was a police officer. He testified that Mendez Rosales thought Officer Canales was a police officer because she saw a gun in his waistband. However, later on, Mendez Rosales changed her mind, Sgt. Torres testified, and said she knew the other man had a gun, but didn't know he was a police officer.

The sergeant testified Mendez Rosales also lied about the depth of her involvement, even though Officer Canales had recorded Mendez Rosales negotiating the price of stolen TVs. She denied it, said Sgt. Torres, saying it wasn't her voice.

Mendez Rosales claimed to not be involved in organized criminal activity, specifically buying and selling stolen property, said Sgt. Torres.

Late Thursday afternoon, the jury heard from Joran Kalvas, who sells farm equipment and tools in Bastrop County. He testified his chainsaws and other property were stolen in June of last year. The man who stole the items also took the stand and identified Mendez Rosales as the woman who bought the stolen tools.

The man also said Mendez Rosales speaks fluent English. When he said that, the jury leaned forward a little bit because she's been in the courtroom along with Nava the entire length of the trial with headphones getting translation from English into Spanish.

Both Mendez Rosales and Nava Maldonado are in the country illegally, and both are charged with felony murder. If convicted, they could face up to life in prison.

Proving the organized crime link is important for prosecutors because if they can do that, then they can prove that the two defendants knew that their actions would lead to the death of Officer Canales that night.

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