New Evidence Halts Trend Furniture Trial
New evidence in the Furniture Trend trial brought the court to a screeching halt Tuesday, when Judge Barbara Walther ordered a recess until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The evidence includes audio recordings of interviews conducted by the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office with 40-year-old defendant Mark Anthony Serrano, which state prosecuting attorney John Best first received Monday evening.
In order to allow the defense time to hear the recordings, the court was recessed at approximately 9:15 a.m. By 1:10 p.m., a decision had been handed down to extend the recess until Wednesday morning so that defense attorney Shawntell McKillop has time to prepare arguments.
Progress in the trial has been slow since the jury was seated at 3:15 p.m. Monday. After only an hour of testimony on June 16, the jury was sent home as Judge Walther heard arguments from Best and McKillop on two suppression motions McKillop had filed relating to search warrants and interviews with her client.
Monday evening Judge Walther ruled to deny both motions and allow the jury to hear the evidence, however with the addition of new material the trial has once more stalled.
Mark Anthony Serrano is accused of stealing some $30k worth of furniture from the Trend Furniture warehouse between Nov. 11 and Nov. 14, 2013. Four co-defendants have been named in the case, and so far Liela Yvette Morales, 33, Veronica Estrada, 32, and Aaron Wilde, 33, have been convicted and sentenced. The fourth co-defendant, Heath Chesser, 36, has not yet gone to trial.
In her opening arguments Monday, McKillop advised the court that the real thief is Aaron Wilde, the only of the four co-defendants to have plead guilty to the charge. Veronica Estrada, however, entered a plea bargain and is scheduled to testify against Serrano in the trial.
McKillop further stated that she intended to prove that Serrano not only did not steal the furniture, but that the statements he made to authorities were invalid, based on his low intellectual ability.
“He was motivated by self-preservation,” she told the jury. “Serrano is a slow person. He has to think a lot, he’s easy to manipulate, easy to trick.”
The trial of Mark Anthony Serrano is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. in courtroom C. For more information on the case and the first-day proceedings, click here.