ADEL — After two hours of deliberation, the jury found Carlos Marlo Hernandez-Ventura guilty of three counts of first degree murder for the late-October killings of Lourdes Flor De Leake, 34, Melany Elizabeth Barraza, 14, and Juan Jimenez, 78.
The sentencing has been scheduled for April 21. Hernandez-Ventura was handcuffed upon leaving the courtroom and will remain at the Dallas County Jail without bail. First degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence.
On Tuesday, March 21, closing statements were made by both Erica Clark, Prosecution attorney for the Dallas County office, as well as Michael Adams, Defense Attorney.
Earlier in Tuesday’s trial, both the Prosecution and Defense gave their closing statements.
Erica Clark, Prosecution Attorney for the Dallas County’s Attorney Office began first.
“Don’t discount your common sense,” Clark told the Jury during the State’s closing argument.
During the closing statements, Clark presented photos of the victims taken by the Medical Examiner. Reminding victims that when he used the machete, the blade was bent after examination.
“He is responsible for his own choices,” Clark said. “He tried to act like he didn’t have a decision up there on that stand, but the Defendant had so many opportunities to make different decision and he didn’t. He chose this path.”
Following Clark’s testimony, Defense Attorney Michael Adams began the closing statements for the Defense.
Hernandez-Ventura’s sixth-grade level of education was made a topic after Adams explained how during several testimonials from officers during the trial mentioned how Hernandez-Ventura appeared “dumbfounded” after being told the option of alternatives to killing the victims.
“We have to look at it through his eyes; what was his state of mind at the time,” Adams said. “This is a twenty something year-old kid from El Salvador, with a sixth grade education, and he’s being threatened with his life and the life of his family unless he does something.”
Finally, Adams mentioned Hernandez-Ventura’s willingness to speak during Monday’s trial.
“Knowing that he had a right under the Constitution to remain silent, Mr. Hernandez stepped up on that witness stand, raised his hand and promised to tell the truth and testify,” Adams said. “He opened himself up to cross-examination by the State, who – are much more smarter than he is.”
Clark presented the State’s rebuttal afterwards. Clark addressed Defense Attorney Adams’s argument of the fear Hernandez-Ventura alleged, as well as his described devotion to the victims.
“You won’t find love in any evidence,” Clark said. “This isn’t love, this is anger – this is hate.”