Delacruz Had Multiple Probation Violations and was Found with Hooch, Metal Objects in Jail Cell
SAN ANGELO, TX -- District Attorney Allison Palmer told Judge Ben Woodward she planned to rest the state’s case Tuesday against convicted capital murderer Isidro Delacruz and defense attorneys say they can finish their presentation by Friday.
The jury would then begin deliberating life in prison without parole or death by lethal injection for the 27-year-old Delacruz who was convicted last week of slitting the throat of 5-year-old Naiya Villegas on Sept. 2, 2014.
The trial began this morning with attorneys arguing mistrial and continuance motions without the jury. Defense attorneys Will Boyles and Rob Cowie argued that new evidence in the form of records from the San Angelo Independent School District about Delacruz’s special education accommodations that they received last Tuesday prevented Delacruz from getting a fair trial and the Judge should declare a mistrial. They also argued in a different motion that the new 527 pages of evidence would take time to investigate and requested a one month continuance. Judge Woodward denied both motions and the trial continued Monday morning with Palmer continuing the state’s case without the jury.
Testimony began Monday with former Lake View High School principal Stephanie Free. Free testified that Delacruz was diagnosed with a mild reading disability, but was accommodated in a regular classroom with additional attention and teacher notes. Free told the court, “(Delacruz’s) disability had nothing to do with his discipline problems.”
Defense attorneys argued that Delacruz was frustrated by his mild disability and that led to his discipline problems. Rob Cowie told the court that there are court cases where learning disabilities preclude the death penalty.
Next to take the witness stand was Julie Moorman who is the Special Programs Supervisor for the SAISD. Moorman testified that Delacruz was tested in 2005 for learning disabilities and was found to test in the average range in all IQ tests. He underwent a social and emotional evaluation and tested average by his teachers.
Moorman told the court Delacruz didn’t always have passing grades, but his teachers said he was capable of learning. Defense attorney Cowie argued that Delacruz’s frustration was driven by his learning disability and he would call witnesses to testify to that.
After the lunch break, the jury returned to the courtroom. Judge welcomed jurors back and Palmer called Lara Allen to the witness stand. Allen is a probation supervisor for the Concho Valley Community Supervision and Corrections Department (CSCD).
Allen detailed Delacruz’s record with the probation department beginning in 2009 when he was still in high school. The record showed Delacruz had multiple violations of his probation and many of them were for new felony charges. Allen’s testimony included Delacruz’s employment history. He moved frequently from job to job and was unemployed for a significant amount of time in 2011.
Next on the witness stand was SAPD Sgt. Kelly Lajoie who procured Facebook records for the trial. Prosecutors introduced several photos of Facebook conversations and pictures between Isidro Delacruz and his brothers Lorenzo Delacruz and Chris Delacruz. Some of the pictures showed Isidro drinking beer while he was on probation. One conversation showed him buying or attempting to buy hydroponic marijuana referred to as ‘dro’.
Jurors took a break and then Palmer called Tommy Williams back to the stand. Williams was the Tom Green County Jail Intelligence Officer in 2014. He testified that Tanya Bermea approached him at a vigil for Naiya and told him that she was receiving phone calls from Delacruz in the jail. Williams told jurors he thought that was important and Delacruz was barred from calling her, so he blocked her phone number from the jail so Delacruz couldn’t call her anymore.
Prosecutors then played five clips from recorded phone calls from Delacruz while he was in the jail. In those calls, he talked about drinking and driving and running over a dog; he talked about two vehicle crashes he was involved in; he talked about making gifts out of part of his sheet and pieces of a broom using contraband in jail; and he mentioned that when he went through rehab and got his mind clear he wondered why he was with that lady, Tanya Bermea, because “the kid wasn’t his.”
D.A. Palmer then called several jailers to the witness stand who detailed violations Delacruz engaged in while in the Tom Green County Jail. Jailer Daniel Jones said he found ‘hooch’, or jailhouse alcohol and a broken razor in Delacruz’s cell along with pills and a needle. Fernando Lara testified that he found a jail door hinge damaged in Delacruz’z cell. Justin Ruiz testified that Delacruz had pieces of metal in his cell from a supply closet. Jail Administrative Assistant Mitzi Scow told jurors she reviewed video of Delacruz damaging cords going to the video visit equipment on two occasions. She explained that if the equipment was damaged, Delacruz could have a face to face visit.
Greg Spruell was the jail phone technician for Global Tel Link, the vendor who provided the jail phone and video visit system. Spruell testified that he had to repair the equipment that Scow testified was damaged.
The final witness to testify Monday was Anthony Smith. Smith is a technician for VGI, which provides video camera services for the Tom Green County Jail. Smith testified that he was in the crawl space between the second and third floors of the jail replacing a camera in Nov. 2015 when he found a barefoot footprint. He said it was so unusual to see a barefoot footprint in that crawl space near Delacruz’s cell that he took a photograph and alerted jailers. Smith also testified that there was insulation that was moved from the ceiling like someone had pushed it aside and then pulled themself up into the crawl space, damaging conduit in the process.
Palmer told Judge Woodward she could rest the state’s case Tuesday. Defense attorney Will Boyles said he could conclude the defense case by Friday. The jury could then get the charge and begin deliberating the punishment Monday.