Gang sergeant testifies against fellow members in corrupt police officer's murder

Jesse Santibanez, Alfredo Cardona charged in 2014 shooting of Julian Pesina

SAN ANTONIO – On the stand Thursday, testifying against the men he said helped him kill a corrupt Balcones Heights Police officer in 2014, Jerry Idrogo said he didn't deserve leniency.

Idrogo was a Texas Mexican Mafia sergeant in May 2014. He said he lured Julian Pesina whom prosecutors say was dealing drugs and claiming to be a member of the gang, out to an ambush in front of a tattoo shop in the 1200 block of Babcock Road that Pesina co-owned. 

After Pesina met Idrogo to pay a street tax on dealers known as "the dime," the gang member turned government witness testified Jesse Santibanez and Freddy Cardona ran up on Pesina, shooting him multiple times with a shotgun and handgun.

Idrogo has already pleaded guilty to a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations conspiracy charge in the case. When defense attorneys asked him about his plea agreement, Idrogo said he is not expecting anything in terms of a reduced sentence. He also said he didn't deserve it.

Instead, Idrogo claimed, he is just doing what he's supposed to do for himself. He said he had received an anonymous call during a period when the case was heating up, letting him know the gang might be gunning for him as a way to clean house.

The call caused him to flee to Ohio, where he said he turned himself in after his sister's home was raided back in San Antonio. 

Ultimately, being a marked man got him to turn government's witness.

It was a drastic turn for a man who admitted involvement in two gang-related murders on the stand Thursday. Besides Pesina, Idrogo said he shot Bill Padilla in 2013 in his own living room in front of his son.

Idrogo said he was the one to find out Pesina was a police officer in the first place after he brought him along to pick up "the dime" payments and one of the dealers pointed him out as a police officer.

He said he was tapped to kill Pesina and in turn picked Cardona, a prospect, and Santibanez, a member in bad standing, to help.

At first, Idrogo said, they wanted to make Pesina disappear, but he was too paranoid. Though Idrogo said he wanted more time for the murder, gang leadership "didn't want it done right. They wanted it done."

Idrogo wasn't the only one close to Cardona and Santibanez to testify Thursday. Cardona's ex-girlfriend also took the stand and testified the trio came to her apartment after 10 o'clock -- around the time the murder happened -- and she rode in the car with them later that night.  

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.