Witness: Killer was victim of set-up jail fight

Noah Espada asking for new trial

SAN ANTONIO – Noah Espada, who is on death row for a double murder in San Antonio in 2004, is asking for a new trial.

During a hearing on the issue, his lawyers called Ahmed Boyce, who is serving a life sentence in an unrelated murder case, to testify on Thursday.

He said he jumped Espada and beat him up on orders from Bexar County guard Christopher Nieto.

"He told me to make it look good," Boyce testified. "'Don't go overboard -- just smash on him.'"

Nieto denied the allegation when he testified on Wednesday.

Espada was convicted and sentenced to death in 2005 for the murder of his ex-boss and a woman who lived in the same apartment complex.

Nieto, who has since resigned following an unrelated theft conviction, allegedly set up the fight to make sure Estrada would be sentenced to death.

Based on the fight, he told the jury during Espada's trial that Espada was a future danger to society.

That testimony, Espada's lawyers claim, helped insure that Espada was sentenced to death.

Judge Bert Richardson, who presided over Espada's trial and who conducted the hearing on the new trial motion, will make a recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals concerning a new trial.

The appeals court will make the decision on whether Espada is granted a new trial early next year.

For a list of recent stories Paul Venema has done, click here.

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