‘I had an ugly feeling': Mother recalls final words to son before he was murdered

Patricia Cerna begged son not to leave home with man accused of his murder

SAN ANTONIO – The state’s first witness in the murder trial of Robert Martinez, 22, was the mother of the man Martinez is accused of shooting to death.

Patricia Cerna said that, as her son left their apartment at 3 a.m. on Feb. 20, 2015, with Martinez and another man, she begged him to stay home.

“I told him that I didn’t want him going, that I had an ugly feeling,” Cerna told the court. “I said, ‘I just don’t trust him, and you don’t know him that long.’”

Prosecutors said Steven Cerna, 21, was taken to a drainage ditch in the 1100 block of Shadwell Drive and shot four times in the head.

“It was out of retaliation because he believed that Steven Cerna’s cousin had killed his friend, so it was out of retaliation for a case that Steven Cerna had no involvement in,” prosecutor Melissa Saenz told the jury during opening arguments.

Martinez’s attorney, Leland McRae, said that there were no witnesses who could identify his client as the killer. He noted that Martinez’s picture had been on television as a person of interest in the killing after the murder.

“Every single one of them referred to a news story that they heard or saw about Robert,” McRae said.

Testimony is expected to continue on Wednesday in Judge Melissa Skinner’s 290th District Court.

A conviction could mean life in prison for Martinez.

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