Victim and Defendant Testimonies Clash in Grape Creek Murder Trial
Jurors in the Grape Creek murder trial heard Matthew Salazar’s confession in court on Tuesday, in a speedy trial that reached the end of the evidence phase at 4:05 p.m.
Salazar’s call to 911 on the day he murdered his wife, Heather Salazar, and attempted to murder her lover, Bradley Floyd; his own written confession and his testimony were heard in Judge Tom Gossett’s courtroom, as well as the testimonies of Floyd and various law enforcement officers involved in the investigation.
Straining to hear the garbled audio of Salazar’s 911 call, the jury of eight women and four men listened as the dispatcher picked up the phone and asked for the emergency.
“I shot two people,” Salazar’s voice came over the speakers. “I shot my wife and another man!”
“Your name?” dispatcher Gordon Sears asked.
“Matthew Salazar…Hurry up, please!”
“Where is the weapon?”
“It’s in my truck. I’m sitting on the front porch…I’m going to call some other people.”
According to the recipient’s account, Salazar then rang Harvey Andrews, a man who he’s known for approximately 18 years. On the witness stand Tuesday, Andrews explained how he’d received a phone call from Salazar just after the shooting.
“I just want you to know that I love you and [Andrews’] wife Debbie,” Andrews recalled Salazar’s words. “There was a real pain in his voice and he said, ‘I shot and killed Heather…and the guy she was f******.’”
Andrews said he responded with shock, but nonetheless advised Salazar not to do anything, he’d be right there. Once at victim Bradley Floyd’s address, he saw responding officers investigating the crime scene.
Detective Andrew Alwine of the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office was one of the first to respond to the scene on Aug. 31, 2013. “I arrived there…Deputy Walter Bryan had a young man walking toward him. He had his AR out; I got my AR out too, and we took the young man into custody.”
Salazar’s truck was running when deputies arrived, Alwine recalled, and upon entering the home he began to note the details of the scene.
The residence was a white single-wide trailer home, he said. The front door opened up into a tiled living room, with exposed wood paneling on the walls and matching furniture. A narrow hallway with a trail of blood droplets in various sizes could be seen heading back to the master bedroom at the left wing of the trailer, and the bathroom door was open on the left-hand side of the hallway just before the master bedroom.
Alwine said he thought Heather Salazar might have had a faint pulse when he arrived, but noted that the situation was stressful and that EMS personnel immediately determined she was deceased when they arrived minutes later.
Alwine had also spoken to a Henry Castor on scene, who had unsafely approached the area intent on relaying to the investigators that he knew Floyd and Heather Salazar had been romantically involved.
The Final Hours
On the night before the murder, Heather Salazar and Starla Heiple went to see Aaron Watson at Midnight Rodeo. Floyd was also present, he testified, adding that Salazar had mentioned she might be going. Both stayed until closing and went their separate ways, he stated, and on the following morning, Heather Salazar called him around 8 or 8:30.
“She said that she was going to come by on her lunch break…we had sex that day…we got up and got dressed and that’s when Matt showed up…I heard his pickup,” Floyd said.
When called to the stand, Salazar stated that he had gone by his wife’s workplace that morning with their children to say hello. Within an hour, he was back at home and sent her a text message to ask what her lunch plans were. In her reply, she stated she would be working through lunch and suggested they order a pizza, Salazar testified.
At that point, he lie down on his bed and checked the “Where’s my iPhone” app he had installed on his phone. The GPS coordinates and map of his iPad’s location popped up, he said, and he immediately recognized the location: Bradley Floyd’s house.
At that point, Salazar testified, he thought three things: why is his iPad there; maybe Heather loaned it; and, go and check it out. Leaving the four children to play video games, Salazar got in his truck and drove to Floyd’s residence. The rest happened in about five to eight minutes, he said.
The Cheating Game
In a green and white striped long-sleeve button-down he wore tucked into jeans with a brown belt and matching cowboy boots, Bradley Floyd recalled his relationship with Heather before a wide-eyed jury.
“I met her (Heather) in Sonora with some friends I rodeo’d with,” Floyd said. He stated he had known Heather Salazar—then Heather Felts—for some 10 years.
In July 2013, the Salazars, Floyd, Matt Salazar’s brother, Starla Steiple and Heather and Matt’s children went on a trip together to Disneyworld in Florida. Defense attorney John Stacey Young indicated that at that time Salazar began to have suspicions that his wife and best friend may be having an affair, however did not address the suspicions until later.
“She had started talking about she was not happy and venting a lot…” Floyd said. “I listened to her. She asked me what I thought and I gave her advice.”
The relationship remained purely platonic, Floyd maintained, until about two weeks before the shooting.
“We was at his house one time eatin’ and I went to go home and he (Salazar) went to take another guy (Jones) home,” Floyd recalled. The following day, Salazar had told both he and his wife about the espionage incident when he sat them down together to confront them on his suspicions. “He just said that he’d circled around the block to see if I’d come back. I didn’t think nothing of it.”
In his testimony, Jones confirmed that Salazar had mentioned suspicions of infidelity. “Didn’t trust his wife,” Jones said. “I don’t know. I kind of thought something was going on [between Floyd and Heather].”
Salazar stated that with the confrontation he’d hoped to get everything out in the open, asking Heather to just leave him if she wanted to be with someone else since he’d been cheated on before.
“I’m not Melanie!” Salazar and Floyd both testified to Heather’s response.
Melanie Salazar Flores, the defendant’s first wife, explained from the witness stand Tuesday afternoon that Salazar had caught her kissing his best friend in their bathroom prior to divorce in 2007.
For his part, Floyd maintained that the relationship at that point had not yet become physical. First in mid-August, he said, did the two share their first kiss in his trailer home. She had walked to his house one afternoon, he said, roughly three miles away from the residence she shared with her husband.
“She came over one afternoon—I believe Matt was out of town. We kissed, I gave her a massage and we just messed around,” he said. The day of the shooting was the first time the couple had copulated he claimed.
Five to Eight
Floyd stated that when Salazar entered the house, he had a gun in his hand. Floyd was standing naked in the hallway, Salazar later testified, and he immediately saw his wife’s purse.
“What the f*** is going on! What the f*** is going on? Where is Heather?” Floyd said Salazar yelled as he entered the trailer home. He then went into the bathroom and shot her in the abdomen where she died of excessive bleeding.
In the meantime, Floyd had retreated into his bedroom and shut the door. Salazar then turned the gun on him, shooting through the door and hitting his arm with a single bullet. Floyd stated that Salazar fired then three or four more times, however none of them hit. Some of those bullets jammed and fell to the floor. Those and the spent rounds were later photographed and collected by investigators.
As photos of the gun were shown on the screen in the courtroom, Salazar lowered his head, digging his fingers into the corners of his eyes. The jury’s faces remained slack, save for a few who wore a look of discernment upon their brow. Frequently, their eyes would dart from the screen to Salazar and back again.
After the shooting, Floyd stated that Salazar left the house and he rushed to the bathroom to check on Heather. “She said, ‘he shot me,’” Floyd recalled. “I said, ‘he shot me, too.’” He then returned to the bedroom and dialed 911, he said, once again with the door closed.
While in the bedroom, Salazar returned and entered the bathroom again and began addressing his wife. He had moved his truck while he was outside, and stated in court he had done so in order to help the wife he had shot.
“I was thinking I need to get a direct route to get her in that truck and get her to the hospital,” he said.
The jury was shown photos of the crime scene during the trial, and as the sequence neared the bathroom where Heather Salazar lie, the defendant could not look at the screen. Keeping his head down and covered with his hands, he dabbed at his eyes with a white tissue.
“I wish the gun would have jammed on the first shot,” he said.
Salazar has been charged with capital murder by terror/threat or other felony. His entry into Floyd’s residence is considered burglary, and without that element, his charge would be lessened to first-degree murder, which is punishable by 5-99 years imprisonment. Capital offenses carry a punishment of life without parole.
The defense in Salazar’s case currently hinges on whether or not he had the “effective consent” or apparent consent to enter Floyd’s residence without verbal or written permission. If the jury finds that Salazar had effective consent, they will be legally obligated to assess punishment based on a first-degree felony.
Floyd said that Salazar had only been in his trailer house approximately two times, and has picked him up at his house on several different occasions. Floyd and Salazar had known each other for approximately five years, he said, but only began hanging out in 2013. In the period leading up to the shooting, the Salazars and Floyd had become close friends, and Floyd had become something of a “fixture” at the Salazar house.
He estimated that he was at the Salazar residence at least four to five times a week, sometimes more but rarely less. Salazar added that Floyd knew the code to the gate on his property, and was well aware of a key he kept hidden in his backyard for the babysitter, Starla Heiple.
“Heather and I went to Ruidoso, New Mexico as well as Las Vegas. We had a key hidden in the back…I know he helped Starla watch my kids,” he said. “I know he used that key.”
Salazar explained that the friendship was such that both parties felt welcome to come and go from one another’s houses. He stated that on more than one occasion, Floyd had told him that if he ever needed anything to just go by his trailer house, even if he was out of town.
Following the murder, Salazar surrendered and was taken into custody. Waiving his Miranda Rights, he consented to an interview with Texas Ranger Nick Hanna and Tom Green County Sheriff’s Investigator Terry Lowe.
During the three and a half hour interview, Salazar provided a written statement in which he confessed to the murder and attempted murder of his wife and Bradley Floyd. Elements of that confession were brought back up when the state cross-examined Salazar on the witness stand.
Prosecuting attorney Bryan Clayton asked Salazar if he’d hesitated before shooting his wife in the bathroom. When he responded ‘yes’, Clayton read aloud a portion of his written confession.
Recounting Salazar’s statement about the iPad, the suspicions and the confrontation, Clayton called the quote out as a lie, then continued to question Salazar on whether or not he’d paused to think before pulling the trigger.
“I’m standing there looking at my wife’s naked body,” Salazar began before being cut off by the judge. That wasn’t the question.
Attendees stirred in the courtroom as Salazar continued to testify, some shaking their heads, others pulling long faces to fight off tears.
By 4:05 p.m. both the state and defense had rested, and the jury was retired to allow the judge and counselors to prepare the charge. In favor of ending in a timely fashion, Judge Tom Gossett recessed the trial until 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, where the jury will hear the closing arguments and be asked to deliberate on the verdict. Sentencing will follow in the punishment phase of the trial if the jury returns a guilty verdict.
The Grape Creek Murder Trial, as it unfolded in the Tom Green County Courthouse in August 2014:
- August 18, 2014: Grape Creek Capital Murder Trial Begins Today.
- August 19, 2014: Victim Blasted on Affair in Capital Murder Trial.
- August 20, 2014: Victim and Defendant Testimonies Clash in Grape Creek Murder Trial
- August 21, 2014: Wife's Love Letter Entered to Prove Sudden Passion, Jury Deliberates Salazar's Sentence.
- August 21, 2014: Grape Creek Murder Trial Reveals Salazar's History of Extramarital Affairs.
- August 21, 2014: Salazar Found Guilty in Grape Creek Murder Trial.
- August 21, 2014: Salazar Gets 99 Years for Grape Creek Murder.
- August 21, 2014: Video: Murder Victim's Mother Speaks on Sentencing, Remembers her Daughter.
- August 25, 2014: Confessions of a Killer: Salazar Contemplates the Next 99 Years.
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