Graphic Testimony: Three Witnesses Testify Delacruz Grew Up Watching His Dad Cut the Throats of Goats
SAN ANGELO, TX —Isidro Delacruz hung his head and cried covering his face with his hand as his father, brother, cousin and family friends testified Wednesday about his home life and struggles at school as defense attorneys continued to spend all their efforts to keep the convicted child killer off death row.
In shockingly graphic testimony, Isidro’s father Juan Delacruz told jurors his family moved to Texas from Mexico and brought with them traditions from his family there. One of those traditions was to cook young goat, or cabrito in the ground. Juan Delacruz told jurors the tradition includes buying a young live kid goat, holding it down with its head up exposing the animal’s neck, and cutting the neck to the jugular vein with a sharp knife so the animal bleeds out within a minute.
Isidro’s father testified that he killed and cooked cabrito at his home on Lindell St. in San Angelo two or three times while Isidro and his brothers were growing up there. He testified that the family would gather at his parents home in Snyder on several occasions and prepare and cook goat using that method.
To be fair, that was only a small part of Juan Delacruz’s testimony.
Isidro’s father cried on the stand when he was asked to identify his son in the courtroom. Isidro cried as his father answered questions about his ‘number one son’ and the time when Child Protective Services arrived to take Isidro and his brothers from their parents for six months forcing Juan and Lisa Delacruz to take anger management and parenting classes.
Four or five jurors also cried when the father testified about his son’s life struggles on the witness stand. It was difficult to watch.
Defense attorneys Will Boyles and Rob Crowie began their defense testimony Thursday morning by calling Filipe Cortez to the witness stand. Cortez grew up with Isidro and his brothers. He is currently an employee of the Tom Green County Adult Probation Department and a student at Angelo State University.
Cortez testified that he hung out with Isidro in school and Isidro protected him and took up for him because he was overweight and other kids picked on him.
Cortez told jurors about a time when he was with Isidro Delacruz in their backyard. He said, “We killed pigeons in Isidro’s back yard and he cooked them. They were good!”
The second witness out of nine called Thursday was Lupe Muniz. Muniz is wheelchair bound. She told jurors Isidro Delacruz was the father of her three-year-old great granddaughter. She defiantly told the court that Isidro was, “an innocent young man.”
Defense attorney Boyles reminded Muniz that the same jury she was addressing had found Isidro guilty of capital murder. She said she didn’t believe he was guilty.
All of the family members and friends who testified for the defense Thursday admitted that Isidro Delacruz drank alcohol to excess and that was the substance he abused the most. Many also testified that he smoked marijuana.
Isidro’s cousin Daniel Delacruz was next on the witness stand for the defense. Under cross examination by 51st District AttorneyAllison Palmer, Daniel Delacruz testified that he was at the Delacruz home when they killed goats by cutting their throats so they bled out within a minute.
The fourth witness to testify Thursday was Ruby Cortez, who is Felipe Cortez’s mother. Ruby Cortez testified that Isidro was so close to her and her family that they went on vacations together and that Isidro was so close to her and her family that he called her ‘mom.’
Under questioning from defense attorneys Cortez testified that she met Tanya Bermea, Naiya's mother and Delacruz's on-and-off-again girlfriend, only one time and didn’t like her at all. She told jurors she told Isidro that, “Tanya was going to ruin his life and to get away from her.”
The fifth witness called by defense attorneys was Michael Castro. Castro told jurors he was a childhood friend of Isidro Delacruz and they skate boarded together. He said he was with Isidro and his brother Lorenzo when they were caught by police ‘tagging’ vehicles by spray painting them. He also testified he ‘smoked weed and drank with’ Isidro.
Next on the witness stand in defense of Isidro Delacruz was his father, Juan Delacruz.
When he was asked by defense attorneys to identify his son Isidro by describing what he was wearing, Juan hung his head and cried. Then Isidro began crying and several members of the jury, witnessing the gravity of the relationship between a father and his son convicted of capital murder, began crying as well.
Juan Delacruz told jurors of the one time his three young children were taken from him and his wife by CPS. He blamed that on his wife’s sister and told jurors her report was false, but he cooperated with authorities taking parenting and anger management classes and eventually getting his children back.
Juan also testified that his family was from Mexico and one of the traditions he brought with him was cooking cabrito, goat, in the ground in the traditional way, which included buying a live goat and cutting its throat.
Next on the stand was Isidro Delacruz’s younger brother Lorenzo. Lorenzo Delacruz testified that he and his older brother Isidro wound up in the same grade in school because Isidro was held back in first grade.
Lorenzo testified that he and Isidro was called the ‘twins’ when they were young because they were so close in age and later in the same grade in school. Lorenzo testified that he saw Isidro drink alot and they smoked marijuana together. He also told jurors Isidro would get mad at stuff he shouldn’t be mad about.
Lorenzo bowed his head crying and yelled, “I don’t believe he did it!”
Under cross examination by District Attorney Palmer, Lorenzo testified that he didn’t remember a jailhouse conversation with Isidro where Isidro laughingly said, “I ran over a cat and hit a dog! Do you remember that? Lorenzo testified he didn’t remember that.
Testimony became very dark at that point. Palmer showed Lorenzo a copy of Facebook records. In Facebook messenger from the day after 5-year-old Naiya was brutally murdered, Isidro’s older brother Chris messaged Lorenzo saying, “Isidrio said he could do something like this and if he did, he’d want the death penalty!”
The messages between Chris and Lorenzo Delacruz were cryptic. After defense attorneys passed the witness, DA Palmer questioned Lorenzo. He admitted that he said in a Facebook message that his older brother Chris, “Thought something like this would happen.”
Defense attorneys shifted from presenting testimony about how Delacruz’s childhood abuse and family life affected his life and turned to the challenges Isidro had in school.
Defense attorneys then called to the witness stand Edith Koen. Koen spent an hour Thursday afternoon describing for the jury how special education services work and how they were applied to Isidro Delacruz. Basically, Isidro was tested and found to have a writing deficiency.
Educators worked to help Delacruz complete his work based upon testing and teacher recommendations. Delacruz was given special assistance in the classroom and graduated from Lake View High School.
The final witness for the defense Thursday was Tarayla Guthrie. Guthrie taught English to Isidro Delacruz at Lincoln Middle School. She testified that Delacruz had a learning disability, but it was so mild that he continued to learn in the general classroom and eventually graduated from Lake View High School.
Defense attorneys are expected to present additional witnesses to the jury on Friday. The trial is set to continue with testimony Monday with the jury getting its final charge, or instructions, at the end of testimony and closing arguments early next week.