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

Jurors in capital murder trial hear from Marconi’s stepdaughter, brother, McKane’s mother, teenage brother

SAN ANTONIO – Editor’s note: KSAT is livestreaming the entire trial of Otis McKane here. Get a daily recap like this one sent to your inbox by signing up for the free Open Court newsletter.

Attorneys for the state and the defense on Wednesday presented character witnesses who delivered emotional and tearful testimony in the punishment phase of the Otis McKane trial.

McKane was found guilty of capital murder last week for the execution-style shooting of San Antonio Police Det. Benjamin Marconi in November 2016.

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

“He was always there for me,” Reeves said to jurors about Marconi, who married her mother when she was 4 and then got divorced in her early 20s.

“Our relationship never changed” after the divorce, Reeves said, adding that Marconi told her, “I want you to be my daughter forever.”

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

“I’ll never forget that day,” she told jurors.

Reeves said that she and her then-fiance were watching a football game when she got some text messages about an SAPD officer being shot. Moments later, she received a phone call from an officer saying she needed to go to Brooke Army Medical Center.

“About 10 minutes in, my mom called me and told me that he had not made it,” Reeves said in tears. Reeves said when she arrived at the hospital, she ran in looking for her brother, Dane, who had just been informed about the shooting.

The two and other family members then 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. We went to therapy to find coping mechanisms to deal with it.”

After Reeves testified, Tom Marconi, the officer’s brother, told jurors about his sibling and how the slaying affected their family.

Tom Marconi said that his brother was a true role model who had a true passion for helping others. Tom Marconi also talked about the moment he heard his brother had been killed.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My brother murdered. I probably blacked out quite a bit from all the trauma,” Marconi told jurors.

Tom Marconi said his brother’s death “affected the family in a lot of different ways,” and he’s missed out on babies who have been born since his passing.

He also told jurors that his brother had a special relationship with his sisters that “they needed. It was something that I couldn’t do, but (only) Ben could do.”

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

Alderman told jurors that he and McKane met at Fox Tech High School, where the two played sports. He described McKane as someone who was “very outgoing, somebody who filled the room with joy, laughter.”

Alderman described how McKane “was the man of the house” and because his mother worked long hours, he often had to cook meals for his two younger sisters.

Alderman said that McKane wanted to be a big part of his son’s life because his father walked out of his life. He said that Saharia Hill, McKane’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of their son, often prevented McKane from seeing the toddler.

“She wouldn’t let him in the house, wouldn’t let him see his kid. It was tearing him apart,” Alderman said.

Sandra McKane, the defendant’s mother, also testified how the problems her son had with Hill regarding their son’s visitation rights affected him.

“He was upset,” she said. “He just wanted to see his son, take care of him.”

Sandra McKane told jurors about working long hours and how the absence of Otis’ father affected him. She said that she noticed behavior and personality changes in her son and was asked by the prosecution whether she knew he was smoking synthetic marijuana. She replied, “Yes, he would in a room, talking to himself.”

Sandra McKane testified that on the day of the slaying, she was getting phone calls from people saying that pictures being shown on TV news were of her son and his car.

She cried and started breathing heavily when the defense talked about McKane’s arrest.

Defense attorney Joel Perez asked her, “Do you love Otis?”

“I love my son” Sandra McKane replied. “I don’t want him to get the death penalty.”

Otis McKane was crying when the final defense witness testified -- his young teenage brother.

The young sibling called his older brother a “third guardian” and said that he taught him all he knows about sports.

The young teenager told jurors that his older brother told him to pay attention in school, “don’t go to the other side” and “stay on the right path.”

The teen said that he was an A student in elementary school, but then his grades dropped to Cs in middle school because the “situation with this kind of threw me off,” referring to his brother’s legal troubles.

The teen said that his brother often tells him, “Don’t do the things that he did” and to hang around “positive people.”

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

The jury is expected to deliberate McKane’s punishment Friday. They only have two choices -- death by lethal injection or life in prison without parole.


About the Authors

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 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 and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

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