Jury sentences Otis McKane to the death penalty for the shooting death of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi

KSAT will livestream the proceedings gavel to gavel

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BREAKING NEWS UPDATE:

A jury has sentenced a man convicted of killing a San Antonio Police detective to the death penalty.

Jurors deliberated for about 7.5 hours Friday before determining punishment for Otis McKane. It is the first death penalty issued in Bexar County in 5 years.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE:

The jury in the Otis McKane capital murder trial is now deliberating his punishment for the slaying of San Antonio Police Det. Benjamin Marconi.

The jury has two choices to consider: death by lethal injection or life in prison without parole.

Before the jury was given instructions to deliberate, the prosecution and defense presented closing arguments.

“This is a dangerous man,” prosecutor Mario Del Prado told jurors about McKane. “He takes no responsibility. He lies and is deceitful. (He has) no remorse and continues to deny the offense.”

After Del Prado finished, McKane, who hasn’t testified in the trial, suddenly spoke up, saying he wanted to testify. Judge Ron Rangel told him that he couldn’t at the time.

After a break, Rangel asked the defense whether McKane was going to testify, and his lawyers said that he wasn’t.

Defense attorney Joel Perez asked jurors to spare McKane’s life, saying that while Marconi’s death was “horrible and should never have happened” McKane has proven that with structure he is compliant and therefore will behave in prison.

Perez also said the jury shouldn’t be pressured to sentence McKane to death because “the evidence is not there and don’t get caught up in public opinion ... either way he’s going to come out in a coffin.”

Perez issued one final plea to jurors.

“Can we stop killing Black men? I think it’s time. I think we ought to stop,” he said.

During prosecution rebuttal, Tamara Strauch told jurors that McKane “is an individual who hasn’t shown an ounce of remorse and he’s still denying it.” She added the slaying of Marconi was an attack on the San Antonio Police Department.

Strauch told jurors that if they sentence McKane to life in prison, he will continue to be a threat to society,

“He’s a future danger, and we have proved it to you beyond a reasonable doubt. By your verdict, this defendant will never hurt someone else again. You have that responsibility to follow that oath.”

We will bring you the jury’s decision when it is read in court live.

PREVIOUSLY:

Closing arguments are expected Friday morning in the capital murder trial of Otis McKane after four weeks of emotional testimony, evidence and gripping footage in the execution-like slaying of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi.

The jury will get the formal charge from 379th District Court Judge Ron Rangel and then begin to deliberate McKane’s fate: death by lethal injection or life in prison without parole.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Watch the proceedings live in the video player above.

McKane was found guilty of capital murder last week in the fatal shooting of Marconi in his patrol unit in front of Public Safety Headquarters in November 2016.

The trial marks the first death penalty case in more than five years in Bexar County.

Live updates from the courtroom

Follow along live with KSAT 12 courthouse reporter Erica Hernandez, who is Tweeting from the courtroom.

Day 17

On Thursday, the state and defense rested their case in the punishment phase in the capital murder trial of Otis McKane. Jurors are expected to deliberate the convicted killer’s fate on Friday morning.

The defense on Thursday called on two final witnesses: Amy Nguyen, a geographic information systems analyst, and Dr. Jaye Douglas Crowder, a psychiatrist who assessed McKane.

Nguyen testified that McKane lived in poverty-stricken areas, and showed maps that identified risk factors in a juvenile’s community that could lead to them committing a crime.

Crowder said he spent seven hours with McKane on three different occasions between 2017 and June 2021. During one instance, Crowder told the jury that McKane always denied killing Marconi. Crowder said that he concluded that McKane had moments of psychosis that he believes were caused by the effects of substance abuse. He also said he didn’t believe that McKane would be a future danger.

KSAT court reporter Erica Hernandez has the latest from Day 17 of the Otis McKane trial.
KSAT court reporter Erica Hernandez has the latest from Day 17 of the Otis McKane trial.

Read more: Otis McKane will soon learn his fate for killing SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi

Day 16

The jury heard from relatives of both SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi and his convicted killer, Otis McKane, on Wednesday during the punishment phase of his capital murder trial.

Among the witnesses who testified for the state was Jacy Reeves, Marconi’s stepdaughter, and Tom Marconi, the officer’s brother.

Reeves recalled the day that she found out about Marconi’s death.

“I’ll never forget that day,” she told jurors. She and other family members went into the emergency room where Marconi was being treated.

“We were in shock that we were seeing a pillar of our family laying on the table,” she said.

Reeves said that she received counseling after Marconi’s death because it “takes a toll on your mental health.”

After the state rested its case, the defense called its first witness, Reginald Alderman, a high school classmate and best friend of McKane.

Alderman said that McKane was known to be joyful and “very outgoing,” and he wanted to play a part in his son’s life.

Sandra McKane, the defendant’s mother, said him not being able to see his son made him “upset.”

She told the court that she does not want him to get the death penalty. McKane’s younger brother also testified, which made the defendant weep in court.

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Thursday in the 379th District Court with Judge Ron Rangel presiding.

Read more: Emotions run high in court as relatives of slain SAPD detective Benjamin Marconi, convicted murderer Otis McKane testify

Day 15

Saharia Paillett-Hill, who is the mother of Otis McKane’s son, testified for the second day in the punishment phase of his capital murder trial on Tuesday.

Defense attorneys asked Saharia Paillett-Hill about a court order that outlined child visitation rights for McKane and child support payments. McKane was allowed to see his son on the first, third and fifth weekends monthly and was ordered to pay $223 for child support monthly.

Paillett-Hill said her relationship with McKane was “rocky” and littered with problems, including some incidents that got violent. She said she wanted protection from McKane, and a judge issued a protective order, but the order still allowed visitation rights.

She testified that because she was afraid of McKane, she limited the visits to public places and didn’t allow him to take their son away for weekends.

Defense attorney Joel Perez argued that the protective order didn’t indicate that McKane could be denied from seeing his son.

“The remedy is not to keep the child away from his father,” Perez told her.

Read more: Defense tries to imply Otis McKane’s ex-girlfriend prevented him from visiting with their son

Day 14

The ex-girlfriend of Otis McKane described the convicted killer as a bad father, an abusive boyfriend and a drug dealer during the punishment phase of his capital murder trial on Monday.

Saharia Paillett-Hill, who is the mother of McKane’s son, testified that the defendant was physically and mentally abusive toward her.

Paillett-Hill told jurors that her relationship with McKane prior to having her baby was “so-so” and that she “didn’t pick up on red flags.” Paillett-Hill testified that she eventually had to get a protective order against McKane in January 2012, and in one disagreement said McKane “threatened to kill me.”

She recorded the incident on her cellphone, which the jurors heard.

She testified for the prosecution. Last week, McKane was found guilty in the execution-style killing of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi outside Public Safety Headquarters in November 2016.

Read more: ‘He threatened to kill me’: Otis McKane’s ex-girlfriend testifies against him in capital murder trial

Day 13

Images, web searches, video and text messages from the cell phone of Otis McKane were shown to the court during a hearing on Wednesday.

McKane, who was convicted in the shooting death of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi had documented the aftermath of the execution-like killing on his phone, according to the evidence.

The images included pictures of the crime scene in front of Public Safety Headquarters, online articles from KSAT.com about the slaying and instructions on how to disassemble a Glock pistol.

Defense attorneys objected to the contents of the cellphone being presented as evidence, saying this was the first time they had seen them. The jury was not present while the evidence was shown.

Judge Ron Rangel issued a recess of the trial until Monday to give the defense time to review the cellphone contents.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Monday

Read more: Pictures found on McKane’s cellphone include media coverage of Marconi’s slaying, disassembling Glock pistol; 11 impactful moments from the Otis McKane trial so far

Day 12

The punishment phase in the capital murder trial of Otis McKane began on Tuesday with testimony from a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was attacked by McKane after his guilty verdict.

Gonzalez said that throughout the past 1.5 years that he has been escorting McKane to and from the courtroom for pre-trial hearings, jury selection and the trial, McKane never gave him any problems.

“It’s been very professional. Never had an issue with him,” Gonzalez said.

After the attack, McKane refused to be handcuffed, Gonzalez testified. With the help of other officers, he and another bailiff were able to handcuff him.

The bailiff said he and another officer had to practically drag McKane to a vehicle so that he could be transported to the Bexar County Jail. He said that no officers struck McKane during the incident.

Read more: Bailiff elbowed in the face by Otis McKane testifies in punishment phase of capital murder trial

Day 11

After 25 minutes of deliberations, a Bexar County jury on Monday found Otis McKane guilty of capital murder in the death of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi.

After the verdict was read in the courtroom, McKane unbuttoned and untucked his shirt. Moments later, he elbowed a bailiff in the jaw who was attempting to detain him.

The incident happened after the jury had left the courtroom.

Prior to that, McKane showed little emotion throughout the 11-day trial, other than when he cried while watching his police interrogation video.

Now, the trial will enter its punishment phase.

McKane could be sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole. Those proceedings are expected to begin at 2 p.m. on Tuesday and will be streamed live on KSAT.com.

Read more: Otis McKane attacks bailiff after he learns of guilty capital murder verdict

Day 10

The state rested its case Friday afternoon in the capital murder trial of Otis McKane, who is charged with the November 2016 fatal shooting of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi.

The prosecution called on 55 witnesses to help present its case over a 10-day period.

Among the witnesses to testify in Day 10 of the trial Friday was Officer Chris Enfinger, a member of the San Antonio Police Department SWAT team who helped escort McKane from the arresting scene to Public Safety Headquarters for interrogation.

Read more: State rests in trial of Otis McKane, accused of murdering SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi

Day 9

The jury in the capital murder trial of Otis McKane saw perhaps the most damaging testimony on Thursday when his police interrogation video was shown in court.

SAPD Homicide Det. Mark Duke testified that he interviewed McKane after he was arrested on Nov. 21, 2016. He was arrested in the killing of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi outside of Public Safety Headquarters, which happened the day prior to his arrest.

Duke, who was the lead detective in the case, described his demeanor during his interview with McKane as “very soft and non-confrontational” because he wanted to “make him feel as comfortable as he can and be non-judgmental so that he can tell the truth.”

During the interview, Duke learned that McKane hadn’t seen his son in two years. When they got to the subject about issues seeing his son and what happens when McKane tries to get help, McKane can be seen crying in the video. That causes the defendant to weep in court.

After Duke told McKane that police had an arrest warrant, the suspect admitted to the slaying.

“I apologize to the officer killed, the family,” McKane said.

Read more: Otis McKane cries in court, admits to killing SAPD Det. Marconi in police interrogation video

Day 8

Members of the San Antonio Police Department’s SWAT team on Wednesday gave details on the events leading up to the capture of Otis McKane, who is on trial in the execution-style slaying of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi.

SAPD Officer Daniel Elborne said the entire SWAT team was involved in the “high-risk” operation in the hours after Marconi was gunned down outside Public Safety Headquarters on Nov. 20, 2016.

Officers conducted surveillance on a car that McKane was believed to be in near the Lincoln Courts on the West Side, where he and his wife lived, Elborne said. Then, a Department of Public Safety airplane that was conducting surveillance for SAPD located a Buick that McKane may have been in at a convenience store on the far East Side.

Aeriel surveillance showed a man who fit McKane’s description get into the Buick and leave the store. That’s when SAPD moved in and arrested him, according to Christopher Zygmont, another member of the SWAT team.

“Very minimal force (was used), and the suspect was compliant at all times,” Elborne testified. He added that McKane didn’t complain of any injuries, didn’t resist arrest or make threats toward officers.

Read more: Arrest of Otis McKane a ‘high-risk operation,’ SWAT officers testify

Day 7

A NASA image analyst testified on Tuesday that the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office asked him to enhance and analyze photographs tied to the slaying of SAPD. Det. Benjamin Marconi.

David Bretz, who has been with NASA for 25 years, said he was able to sharpen, enlarge and clear up images that showed Otis McKane, accused of fatally shooting Marconi, in and around Public Safety Headquarters on Nov. 20, 2016.

He also showed the jury an image that the expert witness claimed was McKane holding a pistol behind the Marconi’s head.

While the enhancement of that image showed something similar to a tattoo, Brentz couldn’t say for sure that it matched a tattoo pictured in one of McKane’s photos taken when he was arrested.

“There appears to be something there. It’s just unclear what that is,” he said.

Read more: Prosecutors call on NASA to help build case against man charged in SAPD detective’s shooting death

Day 6

Surveillance from the hotel where Otis McKane’s wife, Christian Fields, booked a two-night stay after the shooting of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi was shown during day 6 of McKane’s murder trial.

In the video, Fields, a boy and a man are seen in the motel, but the prosecution stopped short of identifying the man as McKane in front of the jury, as the hotel manager could not positively confirm the defendant.

Prosecutor Tamara Strauch countered by saying the video was relevant because McKane stayed at the hotel and that “flight is evidence of guilt” because he didn’t spend the night at home.

The video was used by prosecutors in an effort to show his whereabouts amid SAPD’s manhunt for Marconi’s killer.

Photographs shown to the jury included Fields’ driver’s license, the paperwork for the hotel stay and the interior of the motel room.

Another witness, Sgt. Dwayne Branham, testified that he spoke with Fields after McKane’s arrest. He said that she never questioned why they were stopped.

Read more: Prosecution tries to fill gaps between Marconi’s slaying and McKane’s arrest with surveillance video

Day 5

Otis McKane “was in a good mood” when he went to the Bexar County Courthouse to get a marriage license the day after he was accused of fatally shooting SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi, a witness testified.

Joyce Ann Mendoza, who issued the marriage license, testified that on Nov. 21, 2016, McKane and Christian Chanel Fields asked for a waiver to get married that same day, which they did.

The jury in McKane’s murder trial on Friday saw surveillance footage of the couple from inside the courthouse.

As he was getting married, San Antonio police were on the hunt for the person who killed the detective outside Public Safety Headquarters.

SAPD Lt. Brent Bell, who was Marconi’s supervisor when he was killed and one of the lead investigators on the officer-involved shooting team, said they “believed the threat was ongoing.”

“We knew of a pattern of other officers being targeted, (and) until we apprehended that person, we didn’t know if he would do it again,” Bell told jurors.

Read more: Jury sees video of Otis McKane getting a marriage license the day after SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi was fatally shot

Day 4

Two San Antonio police officers who responded to the shooting of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi on the morning of Nov. 20, 2016, testified about the chaotic scene outside Public Safety Headquarters that morning.

They knew one of their own was injured, but they didn’t know who or the extent of the injuries just yet. Still, they said they sprung into action to help any way they could.

The jury also saw video from both Officers Frances Ochoa and Gustavo Segura’s body cameras when they arrived at the scene.

“Oh My God, Oh My God,” Ochoa is heard saying multiple times. She then went to Brooke Army Medical Center, as she is a Family Assistance Officer volunteer for SAPD, to comfort the family.

She said she told Marconi’s family members of the officer’s death and then helped gather his uniform and other belongings.

“There was blood everywhere,” she said, adding that the mood was “sad, everybody was crying.”

The officers were two witnesses who took the stand on Thursday for day 4 of Otis McKane’s murder trial.

Thursday’s line of questioning for witnesses and SAPD officers seemed to aim at establishing that Marconi was without a doubt working at the time of his death, which would support the indictment that the crime happened while the officer was in the line of duty.

McKane could face the death penalty if he is found guilty.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Friday.

Read more: SAPD officer tells jury about having to inform Det. Marconi’s family about his death

Day 3

A mother and daughter who witnessed the shooting of SAPD. Det. Benjamin Marconi were among those who testified in the trial of Otis McKane on Wednesday.

Jennifer Patterson and her daughter, Alexandria, were on their way to brunch on the morning of Nov. 20, 2016, when Jennifer said something caught their attention on Santa Rosa Avenue.

“What the f***! He’s got a gun, Mom. He’s got a gun?” Jennifer Patterson testified about what her daughter said that morning. “I immediately knew what she was talking about. There was a man who had a gun, and something was going to happen.”

They fled the area in fear for their safety but then returned to the scene, where the mother found Marconi.

“We ran to the officer’s car, and told my daughter, ‘Go sit over there.’ It was obvious by a hole in his temple that there was nothing that could be done for him,” she said.

A Via bus driver who witnessed the shooting also took the stand for the second day, saying he saw McKane run to his car after the gunfire. He said that he identified McKane out of a lineup.

Another prosecution witness, Mike Flores, said he was the first person to find Marconi injured. “I looked inside and saw officer hunched over and saw blood,” Flores said. He testified that after hearing gunshots, he saw McKane run off into his vehicle.

Read more: ‘What the f***! He’s got a gun, Mom.’: Mother, daughter describe witnessing fatal shooting of SAPD detective

Day 2

A witness of the slaying of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi delivered gripping testimony during day two of Otis McKane’s murder trial.

“I was scared,” Ricky Lee Martinez said as he testified. He had been pulled over by the officer in front of public safety headquarters just moments before the shooting in November 2016.

“I could see him laying there and saw blood coming out. I (froze) and stuff. I wanted to help but I was afraid to help,” Martinez said.

Earlier Tuesday, video from inside Marconi’s patrol unit that showed the moment he was killed was shown in court. That led to a juror leaving the courtroom and visible emotion from members of Marconi’s family.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Read more: ‘I was afraid to help’: Witness who found slain SAPD detective delivers gripping testimony in second day of Otis McKane trial

Day 1

The biggest criminal trial in Bexar County since jury trials reopened from the pandemic started Monday.

Prosecutor Tamara Strauch delivered the opening statement for the state in the murder trial of Otis McKane, accused of fatally shooting SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi in 2016 in front of San Antonio Police Department Public Safety Headquarters.

Strauch said several witnesses of the shooting will take the stand during the trial. She also said witnesses who heard McKane’s admission to the crime will also testify.

The defense opted not to make an opening statement.

The jury also saw several videotape clips, including one of what the prosecution said was McKane opening fire on Marconi. Another clip showed McKane walking into headquarters following the incident.

The trial marks the first death penalty case in more than five years in Bexar County.

Read more: Jurors see video of detective’s slaying on first day of Otis McKane trial in San Antonio

Background

On the morning of Nov. 20, 2016, Marconi was sitting in his patrol car outside SAPD Public Safety Headquarters writing a ticket when someone in a black car pulled up behind him. The driver walked up to the police unit and shot Marconi twice in the head as he sat in the driver’s seat.

A massive manhunt ensued and a tip led police to arrest Otis McKane 30 hours later.

It was later revealed that the morning after the shooting, McKane walked into the Bexar County Courthouse and was married as police searched for him.

Security footage showed him entering the courthouse, where he obtained the marriage license.

Soon after McKane was arrested, he told reporters that he lashed out because of a custody dispute with his son. Later, in an interview with KSAT reporter Katrina Webber, McKane said his comments regarding the shooting were misconstrued and refused to talk about Marconi or the case.

The trial for McKane was expected to begin in March 2020 but during jury selection, the pandemic forced all in-person hearings to be put on hold.

After a delay of more than a year, the trial will start on July 12 in the 379th District Court, presided by Judge Ron Rangel.

The prosecution team consists of lawyers Mario Del Prado, Jessica Schulze, and Tamara Strauch.

The defense team consists of lawyers Raymond Fuchs, Joel Perez and Daniel De La Garza.

This is the first death penalty case to take place in Bexar County in more than five years.

Have more questions? Ask here.

Catch up on past stories in the McKane case:

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About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.