Why Naiya's Mother is InnocentOpinion
OPINION— Isidro Delacruz’s defense attorneys painted a picture of Naiya Villegas’s mother as partially responsible for the death of the 5-year-old girl. Jurors didn’t buy that defense and found Delacruz guilty of capital murder Thursday.
Tanya Bermea is ten years older than Delacruz and had good reason to fear him. On Nov. 11, 2013 almost a year before Naiya’s murder, Delacruz was arrested and charged with third degree felony assault family violence. According to court documents, Delacruz went to Bermea’s home on Houston St. and began assaulting her because she had accused him of deflating the tires on her car.
Bermea told police she ran from the house with Delacruz following her. Delacruz caught her and got on top of her and choked her until she passed out and urinated in her pants due to being choked unconscious. Bermea told police this was not the first time Delacruz had choked her and assaulted her. Bermea said Delacruz told her she was going to die and she was afraid that he was going to kill her.
That sounds eerily similar to the events Sept. 2, 2014 when Delacruz slit Naiya’s throat, killing the child. The surveillance video from SNG Satellite shows Bermea walking fast down Houston St. talking on her phone with Delacruz following a short time later. She knew from past experience that Delacruz would follow her out of the house and that’s why she left Naiya in the home. Delacruz did follow her out but went back and killed Naiya according to testimony.
The surveillance video timeline also shows that Bermea was not in the house when Naiya was attacked. The Medical Examiner, Dr. Thomas Parsons testified that Naiya’s jugular vein was almost severed and she would have bled out in less than 20 minutes. Bermea was gone from the house for at least 25 minutes by the time Naiya died.
Deanna Garcia, the SAPD investigator who photographed Bermea at the hospital, testified that Bermea did not have blood on her while Delacruz was covered in Naiya’s blood. Bermea had a red swollen cuticle in her left middle finger, but it was an old infection or wound and Garcia testified that it couldn’t have occurred that night.
In closing arguments, District Attorney Allison Palmer told jurors Bermea was afraid for her life because Delacruz was looking for her by searching every room in the house before chasing her down the street. Bermea knew what Delacruz was capable of and she ran for life. Testimony also showed that Bermea’s DNA was not on the knife or in the bathroom or in the kitchen or on the walls. The blood in the house belonged to Naiya and Delacruz according to testimony from DNA experts.
Tanya Bermea broke down on the stand and wailed the sound only a mother who has lost a child could make. It was a mistake for defense attorneys to put her on the stand a second time and show her pictures of blood on the walls of her home. Jurors picked up on the depth of her pain and anguish and took less than three hours to convict Isidro Delacruz of capital murder. The punishment phase of the trial begins Monday. The range of punishment for capital murder in Texas is life in prison or death by lethal injection.