An 11-1 stalemate by the jury in the murder trial of Hugo Rangel-Botello forced 105th District Court Judge Jack Pulcher to send the jury home Tuesday evening. The jury spent four hours deliberating Tuesday. A unanimous verdict is required to convict Rangel-Botello on the first-degree murder charge he faces in the Jan. 8, 2015 shooting of Gilbert Burrell.
Closing arguments were made by the defense and the prosecution Tuesday morning.
In his closing argument, defense attorney Calixtro Villarreal said the defendant had been honest and cooperative with law enforcement since the day of his arrest.
Villarreal also said the deceased, Burrell, was the only person who was “mad” on Jan. 8, according to testimony from the three other people who attended the party at which Burrell was killed.
Villarreal also noted that Nueces County Medical Examiner Ray Fernandez wrote in his report that, “the deceased possibly struck first.”
Villarreal said his client initially confessed out of fear for his life, and quoted what Rangel-Botello told police.
“He told (the Kingsville Police Department) what had happened on Jan. 8,” Villarreal said. “(Rangel-Botello) said ‘I had fear because (Burrell) got really close. He grabbed me, I panicked. I was wrestling, he came at me, he got closer. I freaked out, I thought he was going to kill me.’”
In her closing argument, prosecuting attorney Retha Cable said that in order for the defense to claim self defense, the evidence has to match the definition according to the law.
Cable said in order for Rangel-Botello to be innocent by reason of self-defense, he had to have seen a threat on his life. But the defense is “unreasonable.”
“The only issue in this case is self-defense,” Cable said. “The only testimony that’s been in the case of any use of unlawful force by Gilbert, was in the apartment much earlier. That was over, they shook hands and that was it.
“That use of bodily force is over,” Cable said. “Was it reasonable for the defendant to follow the victim outside with his handgun and shoot him six times in the head? Is that reasonable? Is there anything in your mind that those actions based on the evidence you heard, was reasonable? I think when you listen to all the evidence and go over it again, the answer is clearly no.”
Investigators arrested Rangel-Botello in connection with the shooting death of Burrell after Burrell’s body was found in the rear parking lot of the Barcelona Apartment complex. It appeared Burrell had been shot several times in the head.
Rangel-Botello was detained at the Kingsville Pointe apartment complex in the 1200 block of E. Caesar Ave. several hours later.
Rangel-Botello was facing one charge for first-degree murder and one third-degree felony charge for tampering with evidence.
He was indicted on both charges on March 19, 2015.
Rangel-Botello has already pleaded guilty to the charge of tampering with evidence.
That charge was issued after Rangel-Botello allegedly washed clothing he wore during the night of the incident, and allegedly attempted to dispose of shoes and a 9 mm Beretta handgun.
The Kingsville Police Department recovered the items during the initial investigation in 2015.
The jury will continue their deliberation Wednesday morning at 8 a.m.
Frank Cardenas can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (361) 221-0243.