Prosecution, defense rested their cases Friday afternoon

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

Jurors in the capital murder trial of Alonzo "Lowrider" Gonzalez will wait until Monday to begin deliberating in the trial, after both sides in the case concluded late Friday.

Gonzalez has been charged with capital murder in connection with the Jan. 2, 2006 shooting death of Javier "Jammer" Sanchez.

In his closing argument to the jury Friday, defense attorney Jon Kelly questioned the credibility of several of the prosecution's witnesses.

Kelly said he believed they testified against Gonzalez because they were each facing their own criminal charges and were hoping to obtain leniency for cooperating with the prosecution.

Kelly particularly called into question a number of conflicting statements made by the prosecution's main witness, James Dennis, and questioned why Dennis had received immunity from prosecution after he was named as a co-defendant in the murder.

Kelly also questioned the manner in which the investigation into the murder was conducted, and said investigators stopped looking into the murder after Dennis identified Gonzalez and several other men as responsible.

"They heard names, and then they stopped investigating," Kelly said. "Then they went out and got the evidence they wanted."

In his closing argument, prosecutor Thomas Turner told the jury the people involved in the case were part of a criminal "subculture" of which most normal citizens are unaware.

Turner defended the decision to give immunity to Dennis, and said the fact that he had immunity made his statements more believable.

Turner also acknowledged many of the other witnesses had criminal records, but denied that any of them had been promised leniency in return for their testimony.

"We can't go out and pick witnesses without criminal records," Turner said. "We are dealing with a subculture here and we take them as they come to us."

Closing arguments in the case finished shortly before 5 p.m., and District Judge Richard Terrell granted a request from the jury to recess the case until Monday.

On Friday morning, the prosecution called its final two witnesses.

Vanessa Sepulveda, the sister of Javier Sanchez, testified Sanchez left her home with Dennis on the evening of his murder.

The prosecution also called Priscilla Salinas to the stand Friday. Salinas, who was a friend of Alejandro Garza's, testified she was at Garza's house the night of the murder with Gonzalez and Alfred Gonzalez.

Following that testimony, the state rested its case Friday morning.

Primary testimony for the defense came from a witness named Christy Cantu.

Cantu testified she was the girlfriend of Oliver "Flaco" Gonzalez in January 2006, and that Gonzalez ordered Alejandro Garza to kill Sanchez. Cantu told the jury Flaco had informed her Alonzo Gonzalez was not involved in the killing.

The defense also called to the stand Sara Ash, a friend of James Dennis. Ash testified Dennis and Sanchez came to her house for a short time on the night of Jan. 1, and later Dennis returned alone wearing "torn and bloody" clothes.

The defense also presented testimony from Jennifer Olivarez, who testified she was at a barbecue on the night of Jan. 1 and saw Alonzo Gonzalez there in the evening.

After the defense rested its case, the state called Veronica Chapa, as a rebuttal witness. Chapa, who is the ex-girlfriend of Sanchez, testified she was also at the barbecue, and saw Gonzalez leaving the party with Alfredo Gonzalez.

The jury is expected to begin its deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Monday.