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Mother dies before seeing infant son’s accused killer stand trial

Juanita Villarreal’s daughter carries on mom’s legacy and fight for justice for her infant son who died at just 4 months old

SAN ANTONIO – Melissa Luna says it all happened so suddenly.

Her mother, Juanita Villarreal, who was 64 years old, went out to dinner with family in early December and complained she wasn’t feeling well when she got home.

By the time her husband grabbed the phone to call 911, she was unresponsive and having seizures.

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Luna says her mother’s body shut down due to complications from pneumonia. She died days later.

Now, on top of her grief, Luna is continuing to push for justice for the older brother she never knew and now for her mother, too.

It will be a fight, but one she’s prepared for, she says. Luna’s most immediate struggle is coming up with the money to pay for her mother’s burial.

Juanita Villarreal is one multiple local mothers who suspected their infant child was murdered.

Prosecutors agree and plan to take Genene Jones to trial in January.

One of the indictments Jones faces is in the case of Villarreal’s son, Paul.

He was just 4-months-old when he died at a local hospital where Paul was recovering from surgery to correct a deformed skull.

With two kids at home, Luna says her mother was told to go home for the night and that baby Paul was doing just fine.

A few hours later, Villarreal was told he was dead.

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“You’ve heard that saying ‘a mother knows?’ She knew,” Luna said. “She knew that my brother didn’t just die.”

Prosecutors allege Jones, who is already serving time in prison for killing another infant, injected Paul with a drug that killed him.

Luna has been at her mother’s side throughout all of the court proceedings to help explain the process to her mom, who spoke mostly Spanish.

She plans to be there still when the case goes to trial in January.


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