Woody Leverett Attorney Midland Tx – Standing in front of a Midland judge with his hands raised, prosecuting attorney Trey Robinson made a powerful plea during Christopher Caudill’s murder trial last week.
Caudill admitted to killing 25-year-old Andres Garcia with his pickup truck two years ago in the parking lot of a Sedona Mexican Bar & Grill.
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During prosecutors’ closing arguments Friday, Robinson and Midland County District Attorney Andrew Van Der Hoeven told jurors to find Odesan, 32, guilty of murder.
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They did so by mimicking what Caudill and witnesses testified to seeing that night: Garcia — 15 feet in front of the lifted van — arms raised, hands out.
After nearly five hours of deliberation full of starts and stops, the jury found Caudill not guilty of murder, involuntary manslaughter or criminal negligence.
The victim’s family bowed as 142nd District Court Judge George “Jody” Gilles voted for the jury at the prosecutor’s request. Earlier in the morning he had asked the twelve judges and two others to render a verdict without resorting to bias, prejudice or sympathy. Garcia’s uncle Juan said outside the Midland County Courthouse this afternoon that the latter may be how Caudill was cleared.
“We want to express our frustration with the judges,” he wondered aloud, wondering how they would be able to sleep that night. Office (District Attorney’s Office) proved the case.
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Caudill’s family members cried and hugged as the courtroom emptied. He was quiet – he only turned around for a moment during the presentation – and did not comment after the trial.
Defense attorney Bob Garcia argued throughout the week that his client’s actions were reasonable because Caudill thought he was being carjacked by the victim and his friends.
“This is a case of trying to show intent,” he said during his speech. “You have to look at it from Chris Caudill’s perspective. It’s a typical defense offense.”
Prosecutor van der Hoeven questioned this statement during his closing arguments. Caudill testified that he was as drunk as a friend that night and later worried that his friend would be arrested for drunken driving.
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“You can’t plead self-defense when you commit a crime: drinking and driving,” he said during the trial.
Garcia said the victim was four times the legal limit for alcohol at the time of his death, and defense attorney Woody Leverett said all prosecution witnesses remembered the incident through “whiskey-colored glasses.”
Caudill’s defense team put him on the stand Thursday with four character witnesses. But in closing, van der Hoeven called her testimony the only consistent story in the entire trial based on other witness accounts.
Despite being “coldcocked” in the left temple and later knocking out one of his attackers, he showed photos of Caudill after the incident with no injuries to his head or testicles.
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Prosecutors also reminded jurors of a text message Claudil sent his girlfriend about an argument he had with a female friend at a Sedona Mexican bar and grill.
Witness Manuel Tarango testified that his friend Garcia went to Claudel’s van after hearing an argument between a man and a woman. Seeing the dome light, Tarango said they thought someone was trying to get out of the car.
Although Caudill said he was attacked by carjackers first, Tarango testified that he jumped into Caudill’s van after the incident to stop the car, other witnesses at the scene confirmed, according to court proceedings.
According to the prosecutor, the jury should have considered whether the defendant intended to cause serious harm to his car. Garcia’s defense — and Caudill’s testimony that he “hit the gas and hit it” — showed he did, van der Hoeven said.
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A jury of his peers found Caudill not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all charges, including lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal negligence, at 5 p.m. Friday Pictured is the location where Amanda Hankins’ body was found on Thursday, June 11, 2015. Investigators filled in after examining the grave site, which was blocked by tires and debris. James Durbin/Reporter-Telegram
Midlander Brandyn Conley, 22, pleaded guilty Monday morning to the 2015 killing of Amanda Hankins. He was sentenced to 49 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility. Conley waived his right to appeal.
“This whole thing is tragic,” said Conley’s attorney, Woody Leverett. “It’s a settlement agreement and both sides agree to the penalty because of the uncertainty of the jury case. So it’s kind of a compromise.”
“My son said jail was going to be hell for him, so I hope that’s what happens,” said Randall Hankins, Amanda’s father. “I hope he enjoys those years there.”
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Last June, Conley pleaded guilty to killing Hankins, shooting her in the back of the head and burying her in a shallow grave outside her residence in the northwest corner of Midland County, according to a previous Reporter-Telegram report.
Hankins was missing for nearly two weeks before deputies received an anonymous tip that led to the June 11 discovery of her body, the Reporter-Telegram reports. According to an earlier report by the Reporter-Telegram, her grandfather, Timothy Parker, reported her missing after not seeing her for a week when he usually visited once a week.
“There can be no closure for the brutal murder of a loved one,” Parker said Monday in response to Conley’s sentencing.
Last year, a 22-year-old man from Brandon Hampton, New York, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in the death of a 26-year-old woman. He helped Conley bury her body, according to previous reports.
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“I grew up with Amanda. “He and I have been very close since he was a few months older than me,” Hankins’ cousin, Tara Swana, wrote in an email. Go away. He was so special and being honest will never take away the pain that Bradin caused me. The only way that will happen is for him to be here.” City Council member Michael Trost (second from left) is seen here with Jerry Morales, John Love III and John James voting for all measures in support of the energy tower. image file. Tim Fisher Reporter-Telegram Tim Fisher
First, the majority of council members subscribe to the philosophy that all development is good development, even if it is argued that the development will reduce the value of existing homes. Even with the compelling arguments presented, Lori Blong and five other council members sided with the out-of-state developer. I was very disappointed. Second, City Council Member Michael Trost expressed that he is thoughtful, prepared and committed to protecting neighbors. I am proud that he is a leader in our city. I will definitely support Michael Trost if he seeks re-election to the Midland City Council.
Your July 9th story about former prosecutor Ralph Petty harmed an honest man, an honest lawyer, a dedicated public servant and a good friend. I have known Mr. Petty for over 30 years, during which time he served Midland County with distinction. He received the Prosecutor of the Year Award from the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. He freely shared his encyclopedic knowledge of Texas criminal law with judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys—even when that law favored his opponent’s position. He mentored many novice prosecutors, always stressing that integrity and impartiality were essential in the profession. Midland County judges loved and adored him and often sought his help. Ironically, his problems were caused by a request for help from one of our favorite judges – a request that any lawyer would find hard to refuse.
Mr. Petty is not a criminal, but the man who falls into this sad story. Clinton Young’s lawyers are doing their best to throw sand in the gears of the death penalty machine. If the state had opted for life imprisonment instead of the death penalty, it would have saved tens of thousands of dollars–and Mr. A 21-year-old Midland man on trial after Petty stole a van, leading police on a high-speed chase that ended up hitting and killing the SUV’s passenger, was convicted of manslaughter Wednesday.
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Miguel Jose Hernandez chose not to testify in his defense Wednesday morning when the trial continued at 9 a.m. in Judge Robin Dare’s courtroom.
He also chose not to withdraw charges of intoxication manslaughter, aggravated assault and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Prosecutors Laura Knodolf and David Watson dropped two charges against them — one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of aggravated assault resulting in grievous bodily harm — because of multiple counts.
The State believes that the crime of manslaughter is distinct from the crime of intoxication manslaughter and states that the defendant committed or attempted to commit a crime clearly dangerous to human life while driving while intoxicated and killing.