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Michael Jackson Apodaca and Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado Sentenced to Life in 2009 TX Slaying of Jose Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana
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Thread: Michael Jackson Apodaca and Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado Sentenced to Life in 2009 TX Slaying of Jose Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana

  1. #1
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    Michael Jackson Apodaca and Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado Sentenced to Life in 2009 TX Slaying of Jose Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana

    Suspects in informant's killing face death

    District Attorney Jaime Esparza will seek the death penalty against two men accused in the murder of a federal informant last year.

    On Monday, Esparza confirmed both Army Pfc. Michael Jackson Apodaca, 19, and Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado, 31, will face the death penalty. They are both charged with capital murder in the May 2009 death of Jose Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana, 37, a midlevel member of the Juárez drug cartel who also worked as an informant for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Esparza declined further comment.

    Police said Gonzalez-Galeana was shot at least eight times in front of his home on Pony Trail Drive in East El Paso. Apodaca, who was 18 at the time of his arrest, is accused of being the shooter, while Rodriguez-Dorado and a 16-year-old boy are accused of being part of a surveillance team watching Gonzalez-Galeana.

    Apodaca's attorneys, who work in the county's Public Defender's Office, voiced their opposition Monday to Esparza's decision.

    "The decision to seek the death penalty against an 18-year-old boy-soldier who became ensnared in a case of international intrigue involving Mexican drug criminals working with United States federal agents is nothing more than scapegoating," said Robert Storch, spokesman for Chief Public Defender Clara Hernandez.

    Attorney Russell Aboud, who represents Rodriguez-Dorado, could not be reached for comment Monday.

    Jesus Aguayo Salas, the suspected midlevel cartel lieutenant accused of ordering the murder, is believed to be in Mexico and has not been arrested. The alleged getaway driver in the shooting, Christopher Andrew Duran, 18, is also charged with capital murder but will not face the death penalty.

    Police have said Juárez cartel members assigned Rodriguez-Dorado, also an alleged ICE informant, to find and kill Gonzalez-Galeana because they believed he was cooperating with the U.S. government or had joined a rival crime organization.

    At the time of the shooting, Gonzalez-Galeana lived in a home behind police Chief Greg Allen's house. After the murder, Allen said he didn't know about Gonzalez-Galeana's cartel ties or role as an ICE informant, and threatened to remove his officers from any ICE task forces.

    Police said Gonzalez-Galeana owned a trucking business and permanently moved to El Paso on a visa from ICE, but didn't give up his role as a midlevel cartel boss coordinating drug shipments.

    Both Apodaca and Rodriguez-Dorado are scheduled to be arraigned next week in state district court.

    Prosecutors dropped charges against a fifth man originally charged in the murder, Orlando Rafael Benavente, because of insufficient evidence. Police had accused Benavente of being a lookout for the group.

    http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_16128822?source=rss

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    El Paso County court records show the jury trials for Apodaca and Dorado are still pending.

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    Trial dates near for 4 in East El Paso cartel-related slaying in '09

    The four men accused in a cartel-related slaying in El Paso could go to trial as early as February.

    The men, all with alleged ties to the Juárez drug cartel, are accused in the May 2009 shooting death of José Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana, 37, on Pony Trail Place in East El Paso. One of the defendants was also a Fort Bliss soldier at the time, and another defendant was only 16 when he was arrested.

    Charges against a fifth man were later dropped due to insufficient evidence.

    State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against two defendants, former Army Pfc. Michael Jackson Apodaca, 21, and Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado, 33.

    A trial date for Apodaca has yet to be set, but a trial date for Rodriguez-Dorado is expected to be set early next year. Because of a gag order imposed on the case by 210th District Judge Gonzalo Garcia, anyone affiliated with the case is not allowed to speak about it.

    However, during a recent court hearing for Rodriguez-Dorado, defense attorneys Leonard Morales and Louis Lopez said in court they are trying to exclude Rodriguez-Dorado's statement to police as evidence, based on previous conversations he had with a police detective where he was not read his rights.

    El Paso police Detective Jimmy Aguirre testified during the hearing. He said he did read Rodriguez-Dorado his Miranda rights before the official videotaped statement, but had two conversations before the interview -- once on May 15, 2009, and another on May 27, 2009.

    During the two conversations, Aguirre testified, Rodriguez-Dorado was not yet officially a suspect. Aguirre said in court he met Rodriguez-Dorado with the help of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, who was the "handler" for Gonzalez-Galeana and Rodriguez-Dorado.

    Police have said the victim and Rodriguez-Dorado were both ICE informants.

    Aguirre testified during the conversations, Rodriguez-Dorado gave vague or false information. It wasn't until later, after Gonzalez-Galeana's wife told detectives Gonzalez-Galeana may have been killed by someone named "Dorado," that detectives declared Rodriguez-Dorado a suspect.

    The wife is now in protective custody, attorneys said during the hearing.

    Court records show a trial date for defendants Juan Gerardo Gracia Jr., 19, and Christopher Duran, 20, is scheduled for February.

    Both are charged with capital murder but are not facing the death penalty.

    Gracia was 16 at the time of Gonzalez-Galeana's death.

    Jesus Aguayo Salas, an alleged mid-level cartel lieutenant accused of ordering the murder, is thought to be in Mexico and has not been arrested.

    Police have said Juárez cartel members assigned Rodriguez-Dorado to find and kill Gonzalez-Galeana because they believed he was cooperating with the U.S. government or had joined a rival criminal organization.

    Police also said Gonzalez-Galeana owned a trucking business and permanently moved to El Paso on a visa from ICE, but he allegedly didn't give up his role as a mid-level cartel boss coordinating drug shipments.

    http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_2...lpasotimes.com
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    Man pleads guilty in East El Paso cartel-tied killing

    One of four men accused in a 2009 cartel-related slaying in East El Paso pleaded guilty to murder Tuesday.

    However, Christopher Duran, 20, will not be sentenced until he testifies against his co-defendants during their upcoming trials.

    Duran pleaded guilty in the May 2009 shooting death of José Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana, 37, on Pony Trail Place. In exchange for his "truthful testimony," state prosecutors have recommended Duran be sentenced to 25 years in prison.

    Duran also pleaded guilty to an unrelated theft charge and was sentenced to five years in prison. Both sentences will run concurrently, or at the same time.

    During Tuesday's plea hearing, 210th District Court Judge Gonzalo Garcia ruled that if Duran chooses not to testify or tell the truth during his testimony at trials and hearings involving the three other men accused in the crime, Garcia will void the plea agreement, and the case against Duran will proceed to trial on a capital murder charge.

    A capital murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole. Prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty against Duran.

    Trial dates are still pending for co-defendants Ruben Rodriguez-Duran, 33, and former Army Pfc. Michael Jackson Apodaca, 21. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the two men.

    The trial for a fourth man, Juan Gerardo Gracia Jr., 19, is scheduled to begin with jury selection Feb. 22.

    Before Duran's plea hearing Tuesday, Duran, wearing an orange-striped El Paso County Jail jumpsuit, sat in the courtroom jury box, at times wiping tears from his eyes with his clothing.

    In the courtroom audience, one of Duran's family members sat weeping, but stopped once the hearing began.

    Duran's attorney, Tom Hughes, told Garcia that Duran understood the terms of the plea agreement, calling Duran "a very bright young man."

    "He has to essentially give up everything he knows regarding this incident," Hughes told Garcia during the hearing. "I will be contacted (if Duran testifies), and I've explained to him I will not abandon him."

    Duran made no statements during the hearing, and no victim-impact statements were given afterward. Garcia has issued a gag order on the case, meaning attorneys and witnesses involved in the case are barred from speaking to the media about it.

    Police have said Duran acted as the getaway driver for Apodaca, Rodriguez-Dorado and Gracia. Apodaca is the accused shooter, while Rodriguez-Dorado and Gracia allegedly had been watching Gonzalez-Galeana, who was shot outside of his wife's home.

    Rodriguez-Dorado was allegedly tasked with killing Gonzalez-Galeana by Jesus Aguayo Salas, an alleged mid-level Juárez cartel lieutenant. Aguayo Salas, who is also charged with capital murder in Gonzalez-Galeana's death, is thought to be in Mexico and has not been arrested.

    Police have said Juárez cartel members sought out the slaying of Gonzalez-Galeana because they believed he was cooperating with the U.S. government or had joined a rival criminal organization.

    Late last year, an El Paso police detective testified Rodriguez-Dorado and Gonzalez-Galeana both worked as informants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and even had the same "handler."

    Gonzalez-Galeana owned a trucking business and permanently moved to El Paso on a visa from ICE, but he allegedly didn't give up his role as a mid-level cartel boss coordinating drug shipments.

    http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_2...ce=most_viewed
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    Trial starts for man accused of East El Paso cartel slaying

    Jury selection is expected to begin today in the trial of a 19-year-old man accused of participating in a 2009 cartel-related slaying in East El Paso, believed to be one of the first in the city since the drug war began in Juárez in 2008.

    Juan Gerardo Gracia Jr. is charged with capital murder in the May 2009 shooting death of José Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana, 37. Gonzalez-Galeana was shot outside of his home on Pony Trail Place. Gracia and three others, all with ties to the Juárez drug cartel, are accused of carrying out a hit ordered by a mid-level Juárez cartel lieutenant, Jesús Aguayo Salas.

    Gracia, Aguayo Salas, and three others -- Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado, former Army Pfc. Michael Jackson Apodaca and Christopher Duran -- were all indicted on capital murder charges. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Apodaca and Rodriguez-Dorado, whose trial dates are still pending. Aguayo Salas has not been arrested and is believed to be hiding in Mexico.

    Duran pleaded guilty last month to a murder charge and will be sentenced to 25 years in prison if he testifies truthfully against Gracia, Rodriguez-Dorado and Apodaca.

    The judge presiding over the case, 210th District Judge Gonzalo Garcia, has issued a gag order preventing attorneys, witnesses and others associated with the case from speaking to the media about it.

    At the time of Gonzalez-Galeana's death and the subsequent arrests of the four suspects, police said Duran acted as the getaway driver for Apodaca, Rodriguez-Dorado and Gracia. Apodaca is the accused shooter, while Rodriguez-Dorado and Gracia allegedly had been watching Gonzalez-Galeana.

    According to police, Rodriguez-Dorado was allegedly tasked with killing Gonzalez-Galeana by Aguayo Salas because Juárez cartel members believed Gonzalez-Galeana either was cooperating with the U.S. government or had joined a rival criminal organization.

    Late last year, an El Paso police detective testified during a pre-trial hearing that Rodriguez-Dorado and Gonzalez-Galeana both worked as informants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and even had the same "handler."

    Police said Gonzalez-Galeana owned a trucking business and permanently moved to El Paso on a visa from ICE, but he allegedly didn't give up his role as a mid-level cartel boss coordinating drug shipments.

    If Gracia is convicted of capital murder, he faces an automatic lifetime prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

    http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_226614...cartel-slaying
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    El Paso cartel shooting: Juan Gerardo Gracia Jr. acquitted in killing

    A 19-year-old man accused of participating in a plot to kill a member of the Juárez cartel in 2009 in El Paso was acquitted Tuesday after a week-long trial.

    Juan Gerardo Gracia Jr. had been charged with capital murder in the death of Jose Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana, who was shot eight times in front of his home on Pony Trail Place in East El Paso on May 15, 2009.

    Gonzalez-Galeana's death is the first documented cartel-related slaying in El Paso since the drug wars in Juárez erupted in 2008, and was often cited by local law enforcement officers as an indicator of spillover violence.

    After 210th District Judge Gonzalo Garcia read the jury's verdict, Gracia's mother, Hilda Perez, began to sob as Gracia's brother, Jose Enriquez, hugged her. Gracia turned toward his family after the verdict was read and smiled.

    During Gracia's trial, jurors heard testimony from one of his former best friends, Michael Jackson Apodaca, who claimed Gracia helped plan the shooting under the guidance of Gracia's brother-in-law and alleged Juárez cartel member Ruben Rodriguez Dorado.

    Prosecutors also presented evidence that cellphones belonging to Gracia, Apodaca, Rodriguez-Dorado and another co-defendant, Christopher Duran, matched the movements of Gonzalez-Galeana on the night of the shooting.

    During closing arguments Tuesday morning, defense attorneys Ruben Morales and Matthew DeKoatz told jurors that there was no concrete evidence that Gracia participated in the plot to kill Gonzalez-Galeana, and that Gracia's statement to police might have been unlawfully obtained because police didn't notify Perez about Gracia's arrest until several hours later.

    Defense attorneys also said that Gracia might have felt coerced into giving a statement because the officers who arrested him, and a municipal court judge who informed Gracia of his Miranda rights, told him a capital murder charge carries a possible death penalty.

    Gracia, who was 16 when he was arrested, has been detained for about 3 1/2 years. He was to be released sometime Tuesday evening.

    El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza declined to comment on the jury's verdict, citing the pending case against Rodriguez-Dorado, in which Garcia imposed a gag order, which prevents lawyers, witnesses and others affiliated with the case from speaking to the news media.

    During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Denise Butterworth denied any wrongdoing by police in obtaining Gracia's statement, and told jurors Apodaca was telling the truth because "he has everything to lose if he doesn't tell the truth."

    In exchange for his testimony, prosecutors made a tentative plea agreement with Apodaca. If he testifies truthfully against Gracia and other co-defendants, the state will recommend Apodaca be found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

    Duran made a similar agreement with prosecutors, who will recommend he serve 25 years on a murder charge if he also complies with the terms of his plea agreement. He did not testify against Gracia.

    "Obviously we're very happy with the jury's verdict," Morales said. "Mr. Gracia is very grateful."

    Morales attributed the jury's verdict to a lack of strong evidence against Gracia. During closing arguments, Morales told jurors he believed Apodaca was lying during his testimony and called Apodaca "a coldblooded killer."

    "Justice was done," Perez told reporters outside of the courtroom. "He was a child when this happened, and he was innocent of everything. I don't think this will happen again."

    Perez said one of Gracia's goals is to become a criminal defense lawyer.

    Enriquez also told reporters he was happy with the verdict, which will allow Gracia to help care for his young daughter.

    "He is going to be the best dad," Enriquez said. "I'm glad the jury made the right decision."

    Apodaca testified that he shot Gonzalez-Galeana eight times at close range with a .45-caliber handgun and was paid $7,500. Apodaca also testified the four men met in a home in Central El Paso to plan the killing. At time of the shooting, Apodaca testified, he and Duran drove to Gonzalez-Galeana's East Side home and he shot when Gonzalez-Galeana got out of a pickup. He said he and Duran then drove away.

    Juror's deliberated less than three hours before reaching a verdict.

    http://www.elpasotimes.com/newupdate...ce=most_viewed
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    April 20, 2013

    Judge lets attorney quit East El Paso cartel-slaying case

    A state district judge has allowed the attorney for a 21-year-old man accused of participating in a 2009 cartel-related slaying of a government informant to quit the case, two weeks after the defendant withdrew his guilty plea.

    Christopher Duran pleaded guilty in January to taking part in the May 15, 2009, shooting death of Jose Gonzalez-Galeana outside of the victim's home on Pony Trail Place.

    The plea was part of a tentative plea agreement Duran and his attorney, Tom Hughes, made with state prosecutors in exchange for Duran's truthful testimony against one of his co-defendants, Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado.

    If Duran had complied with the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors would have recommended Duran be sentenced to 25 years in prison on a murder charge. Duran was originally charged with capital murder.

    But after the acquittal of a third co-defendant, Juan Gerardo Gracia Jr., in March after a jury trial, Duran told 210th District Court Judge Gonzalo Garcia that he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea.

    In a letter to Garcia, which was summarized during a court hearing on April 4, Duran said he was "innocent" of the accusations that he participated in Gonzalez-Galeana's slaying and pleaded guilty only because he didn't want to face life in prison.

    During the same hearing, Hughes told Garcia that Duran was withdrawing his plea against Hughes' advice, and that Hughes no longer wanted to represent Duran.

    Garcia told Hughes, who was appointedto represent Duran, he would not allow Hughes to withdraw from the case, and set a May 31 trial date for Duran.

    Because Garcia will now have to appoint a new attorney to Duran's case, the trial date is expected to change.

    During Gracia's trial, a fourth co-defendant, Michael Jackson Apodaca, testified the shooting was allegedly planned under the guidance of Rodriguez-Dorado, Gracia's brother-in-law, an alleged Juárez cartel member and an informant for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Gonzalez-Galeana, who was a member of the same cartel as Rodriguez-Dorado, also worked as an informant for ICE.

    Apodaca also testified Rodriguez-Dorado was directed by the cartel to kill Gonzalez-Galeana because the victim owed money to the cartel, and cartel members believed Gonzalez-Galeana was cooperating with the U.S. government.

    While on the stand, Apodaca said he was surprised when, on the night of the slaying, Duran met with the three others at a home on Val Verde Street, because Duran hadn't been involved in the planning beforehand.

    Prosecutors allege Duran drove Apodaca away from the scene after Apodaca shot Gonzalez-Galeana eight times at close range.

    Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Rodriguez-Dorado, and had announced they would seek the death penalty against Apodaca.

    However, Apodaca made a tentative plea agreement with prosecutors in exchange for his truthful testimony against his co-defendants.

    If Apodaca complies with the agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of life in prison.

    http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_2...l-slaying-case

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    July 25, 2013

    Killer gets life sentence in East El Paso cartel slaying

    By Adriana M. Chávez
    The El Paso Times

    A former Fort Bliss soldier who admitted to shooting and killing a man in a 2009 cartel-related hit in East El Paso, was formally sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Former Army Pfc. Michael Jackson Apodaca, 22, was sentenced during a hearing Thursday afternoon in the 210th District Court after prosecutors determined Apodaca testified truthfully against his best friend and co-defendant, Juan Gerardo Gracia Jr., during Gracia's trial earlier this year. Gracia was eventually acquitted by a jury of capital murder.

    Apodaca, who will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years of his sentence, appeared at Thursday's hearing, clad in an orange and white striped El Paso County Jail jumpsuit. He declined to make a statement when asked by Judge Gonzalo Garcia.

    During Apodaca's testimony, which spanned over two days during Gracia's trial, Apodaca chillingly described how he got out of a vehicle driven by co-defendant Christopher Duran, ran up to José Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana outside of the victim's home on Pony Trail Place, and shot Gonzalez-Galeana eight times.

    "As I shot him, I was moving, then I ran out of rounds," Apodaca said during his testimony.

    After the shooting, Apodaca said he then got into the vehicle with Duran and drove away. Apodaca said he called co-defendant Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado and told him, "I just did it," tossed an extra magazine out of the window and took the handgun apart.

    Rodriguez-Dorado pleaded guilty to a murder charge last month and was also sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors had previously sought the death penalty against Apodaca and Rodriguez-Dorado.

    Earlier this month, Duran pleaded guilty to a murder charge and sentenced to 20 years in prison.Apodaca also testified Gracia told him in 2008 that Rodriguez-Dorado, who was a member of the Juárez cartel, was looking to hire someone to kill Gonzalez-Galeana, a fellow cartel member, and that he would pay Gracia and Apodaca $5,000 each. The reason for the slaying, Apodaca testified, was that Gonzalez-Galeana had become a government informant, had owed the cartel money and might have killed people in Juárez, although Apodaca didn't elaborate on whom Gonzalez-Galeana might have killed.

    Prosecutors said during Gracia's trial that both Rodriguez-Dorado and Gonzalez-Galeana were informants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Jesús Aguayo Salas, an alleged midlevel cartel lieutenant accused of ordering the murder, is thought to be in Mexico and has not been arrested.

    http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_237329...elated-slaying

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