The ambush murder of SAPD Detective Benjamin Marconi; South Texas Crime Stories

It was a shocking crime in 2016 that captured the attention of San Antonio

The Murder of Det. Benjamin Marconi; South Texas Crime Stories (Copyright 2022 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

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A year ago, we all watched as the capital murder trial of Otis McKane took place.

For the first time ever, KSAT live streamed a trial from gavel to gavel.

It was the first time we heard and saw all the evidence in the murder case of San Antonio Police Department Det. Benjamin Marconi.

Who is Bejamin Marconi?

Benjamin Marconi was born in Floresville, just southeast of San Antonio.

His father was an officer with SAPD and being a cop was a profession Marconi gravitated to. He ended up joining SAPD as well.

His brother Tom Marconi talked a little about their family during the trial.

“So I am Ben’s older brother, I’m the oldest of four siblings in our family,” Tom said. “[Ben’s] personality is probably bigger than life for us. He was that person, I think it’s safe to say everyone in the family gravitated to Ben. I know my sisters really looked to Ben as their hero. And then for the nieces and nephews, Uncle Ben was just amazing for them. And to have someone like him in their life to help in the molding of your children is something you can’t put a price tag on.”

Everything for the Marconi family would change on November 20, 2016.

November 20, 2016

Detective Maroni, a 20-year-veteran of SAPD picked up an overtime patrol shift.

It was something he had done often and that morning started out like any other morning for him in his patrol unit.

Just before lunchtime, he pulled over a vehicle driven by Ricky Lee Martinez, who was with his family and visiting the River Walk.

This traffic stop was made right in front of SAPD headquarters in downtown.

After Detective Marconi took the man’s license and walked back to his vehicle, another car pulled up.

Martinez described what happened next when he testified during the trial.

“Well, I realized that a black male ran up to the cop car and shots were fired. I didn’t want to see no more because I was scared of what had taken place,” Martinez said.

Martinez then saw the gunman run back to his car and drive into an arm post into a parking lot and drive away.

Detective Marconi had been shot twice, multiple witnesses ended up seeing the crime take place.

A VIA bus driver who was passing by, a mother and daughter who were on their way to lunch, and another man who was also driving by and had stopped to render aid to Detective Marconi.

He was rushed to SAMM-C, where he later died.

In her testimony during the trial, Jacy Reeves, Marconi’s step-daughter, described how she found out about her father’s death.

“I’ll never forget that day,” Reeves said. “My mom called me and told me that he had not made it. I just remember a wall of police officers everywhere. Just in shock, we were seeing this pilar of our family laying on a table gone.”

The search was now on for the man who committed this horrific crime that police were calling an execution-style shooting.

A city-wide manhunt took place, police were not resting until this suspect was caught.

Thirty hours later, police had their man.

The suspect

Otis McKane was arrested as he and his new wife were about to leave the city to Houston off 1-10 and FM 1516 on the East Side.

While the search for the suspect was over, everyone wanted to know why McKane killed Marconi.

Apparently, on the morning of November 20th, McKane had already been at SAPD headquarters asking to speak with someone about a custody issue he was having with his ex and not being able to see his son.

Since it was a Sunday morning, nobody was readily available and McKane left only to show back up hours later when he shot Detective Marconi. It was all a random shooting.

During his interrogation video, McKane admitted to being the shooter and explained “I wanted to make the police station feel the burn I had in my heart.”

When being booked into the jail in front of reporters, McKane told the media “I lashed out on somebody that didn’t deserve it.”

While the suspect was now behind bars, the damage he had done affected so many; not only the Marconi family but his brothers and sisters in blue.

Hundreds attended Benjamin’s funeral including law enforcement officers from across the nation.

His brother Tom told the court how much Detective Marconi enjoyed being an officer.

“He had a true passion and a true gift for wanting to help people. It was in him. It was built in his makeup,” Tom said. “So I think it was just a natural course for him to be able to serve the community and be able to help as many people as he did throughout his career.”

The trial

During the course of the trial, the state called on 55 witnesses in the span of 10 days.

On top of numerous eye-witnesses, there was a lot of evidence presented even from a NASA image specialist, who analyzed an image of a tattoo on McKane’s hand that was enhanced from the video of the shooting.

Also, Joseph Hinojosa, an assistant manager at Rent-A-Tire, didn’t witness the shooting, but he testified that he called the police the next day. Hinojosa provided them with information about McKane after seeing news coverage about the shooting.

Hinojosa said that McKane bought some tires and wheels from the business and was making payments for the items.

There were markings on McKane’s car that were analyzed and shown to be paint transfers from a parking lot arm.

Ultimately, the jury came back with a guilty verdict in only 25 minutes.

But the drama in the courtroom didn’t stop there. On the 11th day, a bailiff was asking McKane to leave the courtroom when the convicted killer attacked.

McKane elbowed the bailiff in the face while handcuffs and with KSAT cameras rolling. Officers quickly forced McKane into the hallway.

Sentencing

The jury deliberated for 7.5 hours and was shown the video of McKane attacking the bailiff. They came back and decided McKane deserved the death penalty.

It was the first death penalty issued in Bexar County in five years.

KSAT 12′s request to interview McKane on death row was denied.

Marconi’s Legacy

During her testimony, Reeves talked about her step-father.

“Ben did so many good things when he was alive but no matter how many good things he did when he was alive his death will always overshadow the good things because this is what will be associated with his name,” Reeves said.

In the last moment of Tom’s testimony, he talked about his brother’s email signature.

“I noticed on his email on the salutation Evil Triumphs When Good Men Do Nothing. At first read, I was like what is he trying to tell me? I don’t remember seeing that more it sounds like I have to do something,” Tom said. “But as I learned a little bit more he had that salutation throughout and I know it had a specific meaning for him of which I’m not sure but is especially does for me, especially now.”

KSAT court reporter Erica Hernandez talks about ambush murder of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi

It was a shocking crime in 2016 that captured the attention of San Antonio.

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About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 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 South Texas Crime Stories.

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.