Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jury acquits Clute man in killing

Tried by TLC grad, Emily Detoto!

See the article here or read below:

ANGLETON — After hearing the words that made him free Friday, Jose Garcia immediately reached over and hugged his attorney with tears in his eyes.
A jury of 11 women and one man acquitted Garcia, 30, of murder in the stabbing death of Richard Keller, who died outside an Angleton bar just after midnight June 2, 2009.
“I knew the evidence would never ever lead to a conviction,” said his attorney, Emily Munoz Detoto, who cried with Garcia after the verdict.
An audible gasp from Keller’s family was heard in the courtroom after District Judge Randall Hufstetler read the jury’s “not guilty” verdict. They held each other and cried.
“Justice was not served,” said Keller’s sister, Diane Hamilton. “The best human being is dead because of him.”
District Attorney Jeri Yenne said she respected the jury’s verdict and had no regrets going to trial with the evidence.
“Richard Keller is an innocent victim,” she said. “We believed in our evidence. We collected every piece of evidence that we could.”
Prosecutors accused Garcia of attacking Keller from behind at the bar in the 5600 block of CR 288, stabbing him in the head, the neck and his chest. A medical examiner testified during trial that Keller died from a puncture wound to his heart.
Victor Ramon Rodriguez, 22, also testified during the trial that he and Garcia planned to rob Keller that night. Rodriguez since has been charged with aggravated robbery in the case, and he faces up to life in prison if convicted. He is awaiting trial.
Rodriguez testified that Garcia approached Keller for money. When Keller tried to walk away, Garcia pulled out a knife and stabbed him from behind, Rodriguez said.
After the verdict was read Friday, jurors said the evidence against Garcia just wasn’t enough to support a conviction.
“Too many holes,” said juror Michael Stafford of Alvin. “To much incomplete evidence. We just couldn’t do it by law.”
Jurors deliberated about eight hours over two days before giving their verdict on Friday. They asked Friday morning to watch some video evidence, including a recorded interview between Garcia and investigators where the defendant denied any involvement with Keller’s death.
Detoto argued during the trial that her client was not the one who killed Keller. There was more physical evidence that linked Rodriguez to the stabbing, including the fact Keller’s DNA was found on Rodriguez’s pants.
Detoto said the state prosecuted the wrong man for Keller’s murder.
“It should have never got to this point,” she said.
Keller’s relatives said they didn’t understand how the jury could have reached their verdict. Keller was a loving man, an ex-Marine who always donated blood and helped the local food banks.
“He was a good, good person,” said his cousin, Sandy Kravitz.
Yenne said despite the verdict, Brazoria County Sheriff’s investigators and prosecutors tried the case the best they could.
“Anything can happen in a courtroom,” Yenne said. “Reasonable doubt is a tough burden.”

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