Convicted ex-SA lawyer Mark Benavides sentenced to 80 years in prison
Wilson County jury found Benavides, 38, guilty on Tuesday
FLORESVILLE, Texas – UPDATE: Jurors on Friday sentenced convicted former San Antonio attorney Mark Benavides to 80 years in prison for each of his six counts of human trafficking. His sentences will run concurrently, and he will be eligible for parole in 30 years.
Benavides will get credit for the days he has already served. The defense has already filed an appeal.
Prosecutors said Benavides will be back in a courtroom to face additional charges. They are urging other victims to come forward to keep him in prison for good.
"We know there are women we could never ID. We know there are women that that did not want to talk. There are women we did speak to that did not want to participate," said Meredith Chacon, a prosecutor.
Prosecutors said Benavides' conviction has tainted some 5,000 cases and convictions he was involved in.
Jurors on Friday afternoon are deliberating the fate of former San Antonio attorney Mark Benavides.
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A Wilson County jury found Benavides guilty on Tuesday. Prosecutors said Benavides traded sex for legal services. He is facing the possibility of life in prison.
The trial started last week and included testimony from all six accusers.
Benavides took the stand Thursday during the punishment phase of the trial.
In halting sobs, Benavides apologized and asked for forgiveness as he testified.
"I'm asking you to have mercy and give me the minimum," Benavides said while crying. "I'm so sorry.
Benavides admitted that he had sex with all of the women named in the indictment and recorded their motel sexual sessions.
But Benavides said he believed the encounters were consensual and testified that trading sex in exchange for legal services was never discussed.
His accusers said those sexual encounters took place on days when they had court dates, and sometimes would occur in jury and witness rooms in the courthouse.
During the trial, some of the graphic and sexually explicit encounters were played for the jury.
Benavides’ wife, Linda, took the stand on Friday and asked the jury to “please be fair.”
She said she knew Benavides cheated, but said the couple have two children and she still supported him.
Friday’s ruling came amid a highly publicized trial that had to be moved to Floresville at the request of Benavides’ attorneys, who claimed that the case received too much publicity in San Antonio for him to get a fair trial.
During the trial, San Antonio Police Department Detective Manual Morales testified that police found a filing cabinet at Benavides' home containing 246 of what the detective called "pornographic DVDs" that showed Benavides having sex with women who police said were Benavides' clients.
Some of the graphic and sexually explicit videos were played for jurors.
One of the videos was so graphic that a female juror fainted as the panel left the courtroom last week.
Benavides’ admission of the DVDs' existence was recorded at police headquarters in November 2015, when detectives interviewed him.
Benavides was arrested in November 2015 while he was running for Bexar County District judge, and was indicted in April 2016.
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