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Cardine Watson Attorney Lubbock Tx – A 44-year-old man faces five years to life in prison after a Lubbock jury found him guilty of his role in a fatal shooting in east Lubbock 24 years ago.

A jury of 12 deliberated for three hours before returning to 364th District Court with its verdict finding Pedro Erevia guilty of killing Stephen Johnson on September 9, 1997 in the 2700 block of Colgate Street.

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He is one of two men charged in the fatal shooting. Fabian Madrid, 42, is also charged with murder and will be tried separately.

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The two were arrested in January 2021 after police investigators spoke with an inmate who told them he provided the gun used in Johnson’s murder.

The verdict came after four days of testimony from witnesses who for decades remained silent about their involvement in the shooting.

Among the witnesses who testified against Erevia was Madrid, with whom he sold drugs for some time.

Madrid, who was 17 at the time but had been selling drugs since he was in seventh grade, told jurors that he and Erevia were driving around east Lubbock looking for a quick way to find drugs, especially crack cocaine, after their drug stash. he was robbed of money and a gun earlier in the day.

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Madrid told jurors that he and Erevia’s plan that night was to buy or steal drugs from someone.

He said he was driving down Colgate Street, hoping to find someone to take drugs from, when he heard a whistle that he thought was someone waving at him. He made a U-turn and was parking the vehicle when he was pushed forward and felt the pressure of a shot in his back.

Eurasha Thurman told jurors that she and Johnson were sitting on the hood of her car, which was parked in her driveway that night, when a brown vehicle drove past them, made a U-turn, stopped in the middle of the road and honked. to Johnson.

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She told jurors that Johnson went to the passenger side of the vehicle and began yelling at her that the people in the vehicle had a gun and fled.

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Richard Lara, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2018 in an unrelated drug case, told jurors that he lent Erevia his gold two-door Pontiac Grand Prix, which he drove to Madrid that night.

Meanwhile, Hector Ruiz Jr., who faces an unrelated drug case, told jurors he lent Madrid his 9mm handgun, which prosecutors say Erevia used to shoot Johnson.

He told jurors that shortly after the shooting, the two men came to his apartment to return the gun and told them it had been used in the shooting. He said Erevia told him he “shot that ——” and “I bet he won’t get in another car again.”

Police investigators told jurors that Erevia and Madrid have been on a list of possible suspects since at least 2000, but have been unable to find credible information linking them to the shooting.

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The case would be handed over to several detectives over the years, until in 2020, Daniel Chavez, a drug trafficker sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, contacted police through his attorney with information about the case and directed them to Ruiz. , who at the time sold drugs for Chávez.

In exchange for his testimony to police, federal prosecutors asked for a reduced sentence, and a federal judge reduced his sentence by eight years.

In his closing arguments, defense attorney Audie Rees told jurors not to trust the testimony of Ruiz, Lara, Chavez and Madrid, and called the subjects “scum” and “opportunists,” saying they were taking advantage of his client , which he did not declare. , as a scapegoat for problems.

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He said Madrid downplayed his role in 1997 and suggested Ruiz was in the vehicle with Madrid, not his client.

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“These are the kind of people who would use a down-and-out guy like Pedro Erevia to get out of trouble,” he said.

Defense lawyer Cardin Watson said his client had consistently denied involvement in the crime for years. He told jurors that the men who testified against his client kept what they knew about Johnson’s death to profit.

“They used this man’s death as a bargaining chip, as a get out of jail free card,” he said.

Reese asked jurors to focus on inconsistencies in the men’s statements, which included different recollections of when they were told about the shooting.

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She explained to jurors that the passing of 24 years and the men’s drug use had affected her memory.

“Of course their stories won’t add up, and if they did, you’d better worry,” he said. “Everyone has different memories and everyone has abused drugs.

She said it was an inescapable reality that the case against Erevia hinged on the testimony of an offender because those were the people he was dealing with at the time.

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“This is his people,” he said. “It’s who he was with (on) September 8, 1997, and who he was with on September 9 and years later. They’re his friends on the run, he’s his best friend, a drug dealer, while he’s the go-between.”

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However, he said the gist remains the same: that Madrid and Erevia used Lara’s vehicle and Ruiz’s gun to shoot and kill Stephen Johnson. Joe Gregory Salinas raised his arms in triumph Friday night as he left the courtroom of the 364th District Court, where he ended his three-year battle against charges that he sexually abused a 12-year-old family member in 2017.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour and a half before returning to the courtroom with their verdict acquitting Salinas, 42, of Abernation on two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, which carries a sentence of five years to life in prison. They also had the option of pleading guilty to a lesser charge of indecency with a child by contact, which carries two to 20 years in prison.

Salinas’ trial was the first in Lubbock County in more than a year since concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic halted many court functions.

“Please congratulate Joe, he should walk out of here a free man, which a lot of people don’t get to do,” he said.

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Reese told jurors in his opening statement that his client, who did not testify, has been fighting the case for three years and is looking forward to presenting his case.

Friday’s sentencing came after a five-day trial that heard the girl, now 15, say Salinas sexually abused her repeatedly in 2017 at two Abernathy homes. She said most of the abuse happened in a house where she lived with seven other people.

She described graphic details of the abuse to jurors, saying Salinas would threaten to confiscate her phone or prevent her from visiting her grandparents in Antón if she didn’t let him abuse her.

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The prosecution’s case hinged on the girl’s testimony, as coroners and a sexual assault investigator told the jury they found no physical evidence. However, they said the lack of physical evidence is common, especially in acts of abuse in this case.

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The girl told investigators and coroners that she fought with Salinas several times, punching and scratching him.

Defense attorney Cardin Watson asked jurors to focus on the paucity of physical evidence the state presented against his client.

“Don’t let the state minimize the evidence,” he said. “You want to know how innocent people end up in jail? That’s how they end up in jail.”

Reese built his defense on what he told jurors were the girl’s conflicting statements during various levels of the investigation, saying the girl added more instances of abuse with each interview. He told six versions of the girls during the investigation.

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Reese described the girl on the bench as evasive and belligerent during her questioning, which she said were signs of deception.

“Inconsistencies matter, whatever they (prosecutors) say,” he said. “It’s especially important when a person’s life is at risk.”

Defense attorneys called relatives who lived in the homes where the girl said she was abused.

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Witnesses told jurors they never heard any sounds from the girl’s bedroom or saw any signs of injury to Salinas or the girl.

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Reese told jurors in her opening statement that the girl had a chaotic childhood filled with drugs and violence caused by her mother.

He said the girl lied about the abuse to get rid of Salinas so she could live with her grandparents, who were more permissive. Child protective services records also show the girl had problems with violence long before she called about being sexually assaulted.

“Girls like that, with so many problems, you better believe they’re sophisticated enough to lie about it,” she said.

Reese also called a forensic psychologist, who told jurors he saw many flawed interview methods during the girl’s forensic interview that could have elicited responses from the girl.

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Prosecutor Courtney Boyd, however, told jurors that the same witness, Philip