Guilty of murder was the verdict determined by the jury in the case against Joel Alejandrez. The jury also found him guilty of a lesser charge of tampering of evidence. His sentence will be determined by District Judge José Luis Garza on April 3rd at 1pm. “We are happy with the verdict and thank the jurors for their service to the community and the county,” said District Attorney Omar Escobar.
Charges stem from a shooting incident in Roma that resulted in the death of a 20 year old in August of 2014. Originally the case was dubbed “the ricochet bullet murder” by local media. It is believed that Alejandrez argued with the victim before heading to fight him at a residence on Eagle Street along with four friends. Alejandrez allegedly fired 10 rounds towards the ground but one of the bullets ricocheted hitting the victim in the hip going through his stomach, according to the initial information provided by those involved. The prosecution disputed the claim that Alejandrez fired the floor without an intent to kill Uriel Magana citing the amount of rounds alone was proof of his intent to murder Uriel Magana.
His four friends were the first ones arrested while Alejandrez was considered wanted. Roma police charged 18-year-old Adrian Martinez and his 18-year-old brother Carlos Alberto Martinez tampering with physical evidence. They allegedly hid the 9 mm handgun that was used in the shooting. The second pair, a 17-year-old identified as Jose Angel Gomez and his 19-year-old brother, Jesus Roberto Gomez were charged with failure to report a felony. Alejandrez turned himself in in early September of that same year.
Even though the arrests were made less than a month after the incident the case moved slowly through the court proceedings. Alejandrez was released on bond but violated his bond conditions at least twice by testing positive for narcotics and not respecting the perimeters set. The defense led by Lilly Gutierrez of Edinburg also filed a number of continuances. These were predominately a result of a test the defense intended to conduct. According to Assistant District Attorney Alexandria Barrera the defense team wanted to fire the gun but the weather did not cooperate with the test they intended to conduct.
The week long trial began with the jury selection. The defense received assistance of local representatives from Texas Rural Legal Aid. A packed courtroom of curious attorneys, friends and family of both Alejandrez and the victim Uriel Magana became the norm. For one side of the courtroom Friday’s verdict brought justice but for the other side the grief has merely begun.