Baseball bat beating death, dismemberment of man 'pure evil,' prosecutors say

Credibility of state witnesses questioned in murder trial of Gabriel Moreno

By Paul Venema - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Updated at 6:22 p.m.:

The jury deliberated for about four hours on Tuesday and will resume deliberations Wednesday morning.

Original story:

During closing arguments in the murder trial of Gabriel Moreno on Tuesday, prosecutors said just two words describe the slaying of 35-year-old Jose Luis Menchaca on Sept. 30, 2014.

"Pure evil,"  prosecutor Christian Neumann said. "That is what you all have heard over the last 11 days in this courtroom."

What the jury heard was how Moreno, 36, and co-defendant Daniel Lopez allegedly beat Menchaca to death with baseball bats at the West Side home of Candie Dominguez, who is Menchaca's cousin.

Dominguez, 39, who is also charged in the slaying, admitted witnessing the murder that she said was in retaliation for a botched drug deal in which Menchaca stabbed Lopez, who was her boyfriend at the time.

Lopez has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murder.

In calm, chilling testimony, Dominguez admitted dismembering Menchaca's body and burning his limbs on a backyard barbeque grill. 

Dominguez's testimony was part of a plea agreement in exchange for a sentence of no more than 30 years.

Defense attorney Albert Gutierrez was critical of her testimony.

"Look at the agreement they make with a woman who confesses and did all those things saying, 'I don't care if he had to die ... yeah, I cut him up,'" he said during closing arguments.

Prosecutors admitted that some of their witnesses, including Dominguez, had unsavory backgrounds.

But they insisted that a guilty verdict was appropriate.

"Nobody deserves to die like that," prosecutor Matthew Ludowig said.  "Nobody deserves to have their last breaths on this earth to be in the back of a dirty detached garage."

Copyright 2018 by KSAT - All rights reserved.