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Manuel Velez - Texas
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Thread: Manuel Velez - Texas

  1. #1
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    Manuel Velez - Texas




    Summary of Offense:

    Convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of baby Angel Moreno. Velez was found guilty of causing the infant's death when he shook him at he and his girlfriend’s Vermont circle home in Brownsville.

    Authorities allege that the suspect also struck the baby in the head, and found bruise marks on his body. He was declared deceased on November 1, 2005, the day of his first birthday. This morning, his eight-year-old son, Jose Manuel Velez gave testimony and said that his father had never hurt him in the past and that he missed him very much. The mother, Acela Rosalba Moreno, is currently in jail after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of injury to a child to avoid the death penalty.

    Velez was sentenced to death in Cameron County in October 2008.

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    October 25, 2008

    Velez gets death sentence

    A day after a Cameron County jury found Manuel Velez guilty of capital murder, they concluded he should die for committing the crime.

    The jury deliberated for a little more than 2 hours Friday afternoon before reaching a unanimous decision that Velez should be put to death for killing 1-year-old Angel Gabriel Moreno, his girlfriend's infant son.

    State District Judge Abel Limas read the verdict to Velez, stating "the court sentences you to death by lethal injection...may God bless you."

    Velez waved once to his family as he was lead out of the courtroom.

    The jury decided that Velez caused the death of baby Angel by striking him on the head on Oct. 31, 2005, at the couple's home on Vermont Circle.

    Baby Angel was declared brain dead on Nov. 1, 2005, the day of his first birthday. He was taken off a ventilator the following day and died.

    After the sentencing was handed down, special prosecutor Luis Saenz said he had mixed feelings.

    "On one hand, my victim is still dead, but on the other hand, I am satisfied with the jury's verdict that it sends a loud message that Mr. (Armando) Villalobos is going to use all the forces allowed to go after people who kill our children," Saenz said.

    A death penalty conviction means Velez receives an automatic appeal. His defense attorneys, Hector Villarreal and Rene Flores will represent him during the appeal process, Villarreal said.

    "I don't agree with the jury on either the guilt-innocence (verdict) or the punishment," Villarreal said minutes after Velez's punishment was announced. "I appreciate how much effort, but it doesn't make it right."

    Testimony in the trial revealed baby Angel had bruises, bite marks and cigarette burns on his body plus bruising on his head.

    The infant had two skull fractures that were determined to have been caused seven to 14 days prior to Oct. 31, 2005, according to court testimony.

    The only way baby Angel could have sustained such injuries would be from him having been slammed up against a wall, forensic pathologist Dr. Norma Jean Farley testified.

    Baby Angel also suffered more immediate injuries on Oct. 31, 2005 that caused him to die, according to court testimony.

    Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos said recent verdicts and punishments handed down on capital murder trials in the county show that the community is not "pro-defendant."

    "This sends a message that any cases involving children that the community is not going to tolerate it," Villalobos said, adding that it's his office's duty to "speak for these children that are murdered."

    During the summer, Harlingen mother Melissa Lucio was also sentenced to die for killing her 2 1/2 -year-old daughter, Mariah Alvarez, in February 2007.

    The little girl died from blunt trauma to the head in 2007. She also had bruising, bites marks on her back, and injuries to her kidneys and liver, court testimony revealed.

    Friday morning, the Velez jury heard from several witnesses for both state prosecutors and defense attorneys.

    Taking the stand was Velez's 9-year-old son, from a previous relationship, who testified that he missed his dad and wanted him back.

    Also testifying was Velez' sister, Leticia Velez, who testified that she didn't believe Manuel Velez committed the crime of which the jury found him guilty.

    Leticia Velez also said she couldn't remember a May 1993 incident at the family's home on Milpa Verde Street in which police said an intoxicated Manuel Velez pulled his mother out of the truck and dragged her to the ground.

    The jury also heard information on Manuel Velez' previous convictions on battery, forgery, driving while intoxicated, evading arrest and criminal mischief dating back to the early 1990s.

    All the charges were misdemeanors except the forgery charge, testified Luis Carlos De Leon, an investigator with the Cameron County District Attorney's Office.

    (source: Brownsville Herald)

  3. #3
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    Case # AP-76,051 Oral argument on direct appeal scheduled for October 19, 2011.

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    Attorneys debate overturning conviction in capital murder case

    State prosecutors are in Austin today where they will provide arguments as to why a Brownsville man convicted of capital murder should stay on death row.

    The prosecutors will make the arguments before the 13th Court of Criminal Appeals in the case of Manuel Velez, 46, who in 2008 was found guilty in causing the death of 1-year-old Angel Gabriel Moreno, his girlfriend’s son.

    Velez’s attorneys will argue 46 points as to why his conviction should be overturned.
    One of the arguments states: “The State corrupted the truth-seeking function of Velez’s trial when it failed to correct the false and highly misleading testimony of its star witness at the guilt-innocence phase, requiring reversal.”

    Another point states that Velez’s defense attorneys provided “constitutionally deficient representation at the culpability and sentencing phase of trial.”

    Because Velez received a death sentence, an appeal of the jury’s decision is automatic.

    A Cameron County jury in October 2008 decided that Velez caused the death of baby Angel by striking him on the head on Oct. 31, 2005, at the couple’s home on Vermont Circle, outside Brownsville city limits.

    Baby Angel was declared brain dead on Nov. 1, 2005, his first birthday. He died the next day when he was taken off a ventilator.

    Testimony in the trial revealed that Angel had bruises, bite marks and cigarette burns on his body in addition to bruising on his head.

    The infant had two skull fractures that were determined to have been caused seven to 14 days prior to Oct. 31, 2005, according to testimony.

    Testimony also revealed that the baby suffered more immediate injuries on Oct. 31, 2005 that caused him to die.

    In Velez’s statement given to Cameron County sheriff’s deputies, he admitted to tossing the child up in the air but in a playful manner. He also admitted to biting the baby only in play.
    “I was playing with him. I didn’t try to hurt him,” Velez said in his statement read to the jurors.

    He said that Acela Rosalba Moreno was abusive toward her children and that he threatened to call Child Protective Services if she didn’t change her behavior.

    Moreno is the baby’s mother. Although she was initially charged with capital murder, she later pleaded guilty to a count of injury to a child. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison and agreed to testify against Manuel Velez in his trial.

    Velez remains on death row at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston.

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/new...attorneys.html

  5. #5
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    Velez's sentence was vacated in today's orders.

    http://www.cca.courts.state.tx.us/OP...PINIONID=22657

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    Death Sentence Thrown Out in 2005 Murder Case

    The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday threw out the death sentence of Manuel Velez, who was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s infant son in 2005. The decision was based on what the court said was the use of inaccurate expert testimony during Velez’s sentencing.

    Velez, who was convicted by a Cameron County jury, will be taken off death row, though he has not been cleared of his conviction. Velez has already filed an appeal of his conviction, said Brian Stull, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union Capital Punishment Project.

    Velez’s death sentence was based on testimony from state expert A.P. Merillat, who gave the jury incorrect information about what freedoms Velez would have if not sentenced to death, according to Wednesday's ruling.

    Merillat made it seem Velez “would have a lot of freedom he truly would not have,” Stull said. “And that’s a key issue in Texas — the state has to prove future danger.”

    Armando Villalobos, the Cameron County district attorney who was a prosecutor in the case, did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.

    Velez will be represented by lawyers from two private law firms when he appeals his sentence, though Stull said he will be available to Velez as well.

    The lawyers have uncovered evidence that injuries to the baby were sustained before Velez lived with him and while Velez was out of the state, Stull said.

    The court also found that Velez’s girlfriend had given misleading testimony at the trial, though it did not consider that testimony grounds to reverse the sentence or conviction.

    Merillat’s testimony, meanwhile, was also the basis for a previous death sentence that was overturned after ACLU involvement in 2010.

    http://www.texastribune.org/texas-de...5-murder-case/
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    Velez granted continuance, evidentiary hearing set

    Judge Elia C. Lopez of the 404th state District Court granted convicted killer Manuel Velez a continuance Thursday in his re-sentencing trial and confirmed that an evidentiary hearing for his application of writ of habeas corpus would go forward on Dec. 11.

    Velez’s re-sentencing is postponed until April 15, 2013.

    The state had no objection as the new date would give the district attorney time to prepare for re-sentencing.

    Velez was convicted and sentenced to death in October 2008 for the death of his girlfriend’s infant son, 1-year-old Angel Gabriel Moreno, but his death sentence was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in June.

    His habeas application claims new evidence shows Velez was not inTexaswhen Angel Gabriel Moreno suffered fatal injuries. The state, in its response to Velez’s habeas application, disagreed and wrote that his conviction shouldn’t be undone because of “extraneous speculative evidence.”

    “The jury found that Applicant (Velez) inflicted that blow, and its finding should not be disturbed by extraneous speculative evidence that would have little, if any, impact on the ultimate questions in this case,” the document filed in July says.

    His habeas application claims that Velez was inMemphis,Tenn.— notBrownsville— when the child suffered fatal injuries.

    During Thursday’s hearing, the state said that it thought an evidentiary hearing for Velez’s habeas application was tentative and not set in stone.

    “We’ll have it. I’m advising you today,” Lopez said. “I’d like to hear what they have. We’ll have it, so be ready.”

    Habeas council Neil Burger initially had told the court that the habeas hearing could last three months, but he back stepped on that saying the hearing could take up to a week.

    In an Oct. 23 letter to Lopez, Burger said counsel would need five or six working days.

    “Following the hearing, the Court will need to make findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting its recommendations on whether Mr. Velez should be released or granted a new trial,” the letter says. “Those findings and conclusions, together with the Application, Response and Reply, the evidentiary hearing transcript, and any other filings or transcripts associated with this habeas action, will then be forwarded to the Court of Criminal Appeals as part of the habeas record.”

    According to Burger’s letter, an evidentiary hearing is only held when the court determines there are disputed material facts and that hearing is meant to resolve those fact issues.

    “Moreover, habeas counsel remains hopeful that upon further review of the trial and habeas records the State will drop its pursuit of the death penalty, which would eliminate the time and expense of trial on that issue,” the letter states.

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/new...a4bcf6878.html
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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  8. #8
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    Article from the ACLU!

    Velez Hearing Day 4: Plight of Victim’s Family Shows That Death Penalty is the Wrong Priority

    Day 4 of the Manuel Velez innocence hearing on Friday in Brownsville, Texas, brought into focus the plight of the poor, depressed, and overwhelmed young mother of the child victim who died -- a mother who desperately needed help but never found it.

    At a 2008 trial, Manuel was convicted and sentenced to death for killing 11-month-old Angel Moreno. Before Friday’s testimony, most of this hearing’s evidence has been the testimony of experts who showed that the child’s injuries were caused at a time when Manuel was not involved with the family and had no access to the child.

    Witnesses Friday described the months leading up to the boy’s death, and the struggles his mother, Acela Moreno, faced. A friend testified that troubles started when Moreno came to her home at 3:00 a.m., with one of her three children in her arms. Moreno asked for money so she could flee the home of Juan Chavez, the father of the victim in this case, who was abusing her. The friend had provided money to Moreno in the past. On another occasion, the friend drove Moreno to a battered women’s shelter.

    Friends and neighbors of Moreno described her as struggling and very depressed -- she would cry frequently. She did not have a job. And she was caring for three children. The witnesses told the court Moreno could be found drinking a beer in the middle of the day; that she seemed to get easily frustrated.

    At times Moreno lashed out violently at her children, including an occasion when she pushed her into a ceramic statue, breaking the statue and injuring the child’s head. An ambulance arrived and sought to take the child to the hospital, but Moreno refused.

    This is a person society needs to help -- not only for her own benefit, but to protect the children involved. Too often, there are inadequate resources to help such people. In this case, society clearly failed Moreno and her children. And it has become clear in this hearing that the result was the death of Angel.

    Authorities only compounded this tragedy when they then charged Manuel with capital murder and sought his death sentence – as a direct result of Moreno moving in with him as she fled domestic violence.

    The resources spent to convict Velez and to obtain his death sentence were considerable. Three prosecutors, three experts, and two appointed defense counsel participated in the 2008 trial, not to mention the judge and court staff. Even more resources have now gone into challenging Manuel’s death sentence – the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed it – and in challenging his conviction as false and unsupported.

    Velez’s conviction and death sentence has been a tragedy for him and his family. He has been wrongly imprisoned for seven years. But the case also shows the tragedy of a society unable to care for its most vulnerable citizens. By repealing the death penalty and redirecting a fraction of the resources spent to carry it out, we could help many families struggling with mental illness, depression, drinking problems, and domestic violence. Tragedies like this one can be averted.

    We also heard Friday from trial counsel from 2008, who fully admitted during testimony his serious mistakes in handling the trial. The hearing will conclude today.

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/capital-pun...wrong-priority
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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    Judge Considers New Trial For Death Row Inmate

    A Brownsville judge has taken under consideration a motion requesting a new trial for a former death row inmate from Brownsville. The motion was the focus of a 5-day hearing, in which appeal attorneys for Manuel Velez argued Velez' trial attorney was grossly inefficient. The attorneys presented testimony to show that the trial jury didn't hear all of the medical evidence it should have. They're trying to prove that Velez didn't deliver the fatal blow to the head that killed his girlfriend's 1-year-old son back in 2005. Velez' death sentence was thrown out earlier this year by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals which found a portion of the trial testimony inaccurate. Brownsville Judge Elia Lopez says she'll rule on the new trial request within 60 days.

    http://www.kurv.com/?id=7394
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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    April 2, 2013

    Judge recommends new trial in Manuel Velez case

    By Mark Reagan
    The Brownsville Herald

    State District Judge Elia Cornejo Lopez has recommended a Brownsville man convicted of murdering a toddler get a new trial.

    Lopez issued the order today in the Manuel Velez case. He had been convicted of killing 1-year-old Angel Gabriel Moreno in October 2008.

    Velez was convicted and sentenced to death, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out the sentence in June because expert witness testimony on future dangerousness was deemed inaccurate.

    Last December, Velez appeared before Lopez for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Lopez would or wouldn’t recommend a new trial for him.

    Although Lopez made the recommendation, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will make the final decision.

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/new...a4bcf6878.html

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