A 41-year-old Beeville man was convicted Thursday of shooting his wife and killing another man last July.
Romeo Flores, who lived in the Orangedale community, also was found guilty of threatening to kill his mother-in-law, who interrupted the shooting spree at her daughter’s house next door.
The nine-man, three-woman jury spent about two hours deliberating Flores’ fate Thursday afternoon before finding him guilty of shooting Beverly Jean Flores, 41, twice in the stomach and killing Martín Flores, 43, with a .357-caliber revolver.
Flores showed no reaction as the first of the three verdicts were read, the charge of first-degree murder, punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison and a $10,000 fine. However, Flores hung his head as District Court Judge Janna Whatley read the last two verdicts: Charges of attempted murder, a second degree felony offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and aggravated assault by threat with a gun, a second degree felony offense.
The jury also found that a deadly weapon was used or exhibited in the commission of the crimes, which means he will have to spend at least half of his sentence behind bars before he is eligible for parole.
Bee County District Attorney Martha Warner is prosecuting the case on behalf of the state.
Rockport attorneys Reese Rozzell and James Teague were appointed to defend Flores.
The sentencing portion of the murder trial began immediately after the verdict was read with Warner calling two witnesses: Bee County sheriff’s deputy Capt. Dan Caddell, who essentially testified that Flores had been convicted of seeking the services of a prostitute in 1996.
The other witness was the older sister of Martín Cano, Lupita Cano.
Lupita Cano, 50, kissed her fingertips and touched them to a portrait of her brother hanging behind the witness stand before sitting down to testify. Her eyes brimmed with tears and other family members moaned and sobbed as she recounted the crushing loss of a younger brother, whom she recalled as a loving son, father of three, and grandfather who was known for his love of baseball and cooking.
Lupita also said she felt some guilt at introducing her brother to Beverly Jean on July 10 — one week before the killing. She said she was unaware if her brother and Beverly Jean had become involved romantically.
Defense attorneys representing Flores said they would call witnesses of their own Friday morning and testimony ended around 4:15 p.m. Thursday so that attorneys and the judge could draw up instructions for the jury when they retire to deliberate Flores’ punishment, expected to take place sometime Friday.
Jury selection began Monday and testimony began Tuesday morning with Warner calling witnesses who testified that Flores and his wife had a badly broken marriage that included at least three instances in which his wife had “strayed” from their marriage.
A sheriff’s deputy, patrol Sgt. Craig Gisler, testified that he had been dispatched to the Flores’ house in the Orangedale community on July 11, to investigate a domestic dispute. Gisler told jurors that Romeo had told him of his wife’s infidelity and the deputy said he ordered Beverly Jean to leave the house after she threatened to beat her husband once officers left.
A friend of Romeo’s testified that Romeo had called him up the next day to borrow a gun. The weapon, a .357-magnum revolver, was used in the shooting, another investigator testified.
Another friend of Romeo’s, Israel Ledesme Jr., who lives in Houston, said Romeo called him shortly after deputies left and told him about the fight and his wife’s cheating,
“He said Beverly was leaving. She had taken up with someone else,” Ledesme recalled Tuesday. “He was pretty distraught. He had called police. He wanted a witness. She had scratched him up in the past.”
Ledesme, a witness for the prosecution, said Romeo called him again on the following day and told him he planned to kill his wife, who was moving into Cano’s home.
Ledesme told jurors that Romeo said he had talked to his deceased mother, who told him to kill his wife and then himself, and that she had a place in heaven for him once he did.
Ledesme also said Romeo called him a short while later and told him he had followed Beverly Jean and her parents, Wade and Sidny Banta to a restaurant and he planned to kill them when they came out. Romeo was upset with his in-laws because they had ordered him to move out of the home they owned and that he shared with their daughter, Ledesme recalled.
Ledesme said he talked Romeo out of killing the three – his wife and her parents.
Flores’ attorneys said they would not dispute much of the prosecution’s evidence, but insisted their client was insane at the time of the shooting.
They insisted their client had borrowed the revolver to go hog hunting.
They also called a psychologist who testified that it was possible for Flores to be insane during that brief moment of time and sane afterwards.
Warner also called upon a psychologist to testify. However, he testified that Flores’ actions leading up to the shooting — borrowing a gun, telling his friend he wanted to kill his wife and stalking her — were signs he was sane and simply shot his wife and Cano in a fit of rage.
Gisler testified he arrived at Flores’ home in Orangedale to find Cano face down in the front yard and Beverly Jean laying face down on the front porch.
Sidny Banta testified she was in her house next door when she heard the gunshots and went outside to see what the noise was about. She said she arrived to find Romeo pointing a gun in her face and he ordered her to go back inside.