SAN DIEGO - Nineteen years after Brian Mark Kopatz was convicted of three murders and an attempted murder, he stood before the 229th District Court judge questioning his sentences "due to ineffective counsel," according to a writ filed by Kopatz.
On Tuesday morning, Kopatz's attorney, Jennifer Barrera Solis, questioned Attorney Sam Fugate, Kopatz's court appointed attorney at his trial, because of Kopatz's allegation of ineffective counsel.
In January 2000, Kopatz, who was 26 at the time of the incident, shot and killed three people and injured another person. Kopatz went to a sports bar where he killed Jesus Vallejo Sanchez and Ana Hinojosa, and injured one person. He also went to Commissioner Rene Perez's residence and shot his wife, Alma Perez. She passed away in a hospital.
Authorities arrested Kopatz in Kingsville at his parents' home.
He was sentenced to three life in prison sentences for the murders and a sentence of 25 years for the attempted murder.
“As far as the guilt or innocence part of (the case), it was pretty straight forward. I think the evidence was pretty clear and overwhelming,” Fugate said. “As far as the punishment aspect of it (and) because of Kopatz issues that he has makes it complicated...There was evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that he did (commit) this act...I do remember a lot about this case because it was a really sad case. Because of Brian's situation and how this all came about, it was a very sad case... “He was looking at a life sentence for the capital murder part...I don't think another lawyer could've done any better than I did.
A psychiatrist “examined” Kopatz and he was found “competent and sane at the time he committed these offenses,” he said. Fugate mentioned that Kopatz had "social and emotional issues."
Kopatz believed he was going to do 50 years maximum. However, on pages 44 and 45 of volume 2 of the court recordings, the agreement stated 50 years minimum to life in prison, according to Assistant District Attorney Andrew Whitlock.
Kopatz stated that he was not informed of the consequences of the (plea) deal, according to Solis. Fugate responded with “That's not true.”
“It was my recommendation to take the plea, but it was his decision...,” Fugate said. “In this case, Brian (actually) shot and killed Mrs. Perez. He drove to Kingsville and asked his dad to get him out of the country...That shows that he knew (what he did) was wrong.”
Whitlock recommended that District Judge Baldemar Garza deny Kopatz's appeal.
Judge Garza will “make a decision no later then next week.”