Testimony continues in 79th District Court

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The prosecution continued presenting its case Wednesday in the murder trial of Marie Gallegos, an Alice woman charged with the October 2005 murder of James Brown.

On Tuesday, the first full day of trial, both sides presented opening arguments before the jury in Judge Richard Terrell's 79th District Court.

Prosecutor Lee Persohn explained the elements of the case the state intended to present to prove the charge, that Gallegos murdered Brown in his home in Alice on Oct. 24, 2005.

"The state expects the evidence to prove that Marie Gallegos went to the home of James Brown early in the morning," Persohn told the jury. "Shortly after that, there was a struggle, and Mr. Brown was stabbed in the neck and bled to death."

Defense attorney Homero Canales told the jury Gallegos was a drug addict who provided sexual favors to Brown in exchange for money to purchase drugs, but said the evidence would show his client did not murder Brown.

"What happened here, is at one point it went beyond what was allowed in their arrangement," Canales said. "It got out of control and ended in the death of Mr. Brown."

The key testimony for the state came late in the day from Texas Ranger Ray Ramon, who interviewed Gallegos following her arrest. Ramon told the jury that after he had informed Gallegos of her rights, she confessed to killing Brown and signed a written statement to that effect.

"I asked Ms. Gallegos if she knew how Mr. Brown had died, and she went ahead and told me she had killed him," Ramon said.

The state also introduced testimony from several other law enforcement personnel connected with the case Tuesday. According to that testimony, shortly after 8 a.m. Oct. 24 2005, the Alice Police Department and the Alice Fire Department were called to a home in the area of Lantana and Gibson streets in Alice in reference to a fire. Fire fighters worked for several minutes to extinguish the blaze, and discovered the charred body of the home owner, Brown, on a bed in the home.

Mitchell Wilson, a deputy marshal with the State Fire Marshal's office, testified he investigated the fire and determined that gasoline was used to start the fire in the area in which Brown's body was found.

Several deputies with the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department and David Valadez, the lead investigator with the Alice Police Department, testified a search was started for a missing vehicle from Brown's home, and that vehicle was located in the possession of Gallegos and a female juvenile.

Lee Ramon, a deputy with the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department, testified he and another deputy, Joe Martinez, were involved in a pursuit with the vehicle, which eventually led to the arrest of Gallegos and the detention of the juvenile. Ramon also testified that when he arrested Gallegos he removed a knife from her pocket, and marijuana, cocaine and a .357 caliber handgun were recovered from the vehicle.

Testimony from Texas Ranger Ramon was expected to continue Wednesday morning.