Gonzalez accused of murdering Javier Sanchez in Jan. '06

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

Defense attorneys continued their cross-examination of one of the prosecution's key witnesses Wednesday, in the capital murder trial of Alonzo Gonzalez.

On Tuesday, attorneys for the prosecution and the defense spent most of the afternoon questioning James Dennis, one of the last people known to have seen the victim, Javier Sanchez, alive.

Under direct examination by the prosecution, Dennis testified he and Sanchez were friends, and he contacted Sanchez the night of Jan. 1, 2006 to "go party." Dennis testified both he and Sanchez spent most of the night using cocaine, which they obtained on several occasions throughout the evening from Alejandro Carbajal Garza Jr.

Garza was convicted of capital murder in connection with Sanchez's death in June.

Dennis testified he and Sanchez were to meet Garza on Easterling Road in Alice near a water well, but they were attacked shortly after arriving at the location.

Dennis testified he saw Garza, Gonzalez and a third person, identified as Alfred "Casper" Gonzalez, grab Sanchez and force him into a gold Ford Expedition at gunpoint.

Dennis also testified that while Alonzo Gonzalez was forcing Sanchez into the vehicle, Dennis heard a loud "pop" and saw Sanchez buckle as if shot.

Dennis also testified he met with all three of the men later that night, and heard Gonzalez tell someone on a telephone that he had "put three in the dome," referring to Sanchez.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Jon Kelly questioned Dennis about his "extensive" criminal background, and about numerous conflicting statements Dennis has provided to law enforcement officials since he was first questioned on Jan. 4, 2006.

Dennis indicated he had been less than truthful in some statements as a "smoke screen" to protect himself and his family from possible retaliation from those he alleges were involved in the murder.

When asked about his indictment for capital murder in connection with Sanchez's death, which came in May of this year, shortly before Alejandro Garza's trial, Dennis said he believed the district attorney's office and the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department used the indictment to pressure him to testify against the other defendants in the case.

Dennis has received full immunity from prosecution in the case in return for his testimony.

Kelly was expected to continue his cross-examination today.

Other witnesses who testified Tuesday included a woman who discovered Sanchez's body while driving to work, and lead investigator Enrique Saenz.

Saenz testified about his examination of the scene where Sanchez's body was found, on County Road 247 near Six Bridges Road. Sanchez was wearing only shorts and tennis shoes, and had been shot multiple times in the head and upper torso, Saenz testified.

Saenz also testified there was little physical evidence at the scene, although he did collect a 9mm casing, what appeared to be a 9mm bullet beneath the body and a hat with the letter "T" on it.

Saenz also testified he located what he believed was the Ford Expedition used in the crime several months after the murder, although no physical evidence was recovered from the vehicle.

The jury also heard testimony Tuesday from Medical Examiner Dr. Harminder Narula, who told the jury an autopsy revealed Sanchez had been shot three times in the head, once in the shoulder and once in the abdomen.