Imagine being a teenager and waking up in the neighborhood where you spent your whole life, and walking to your best friend’s house to hang out and smoke some marijuana.
“You are 16. You are young. You are dumb. You are carefree. The world is your oyster, but most importantly you have your whole life in front of you.”
Those are the shoes Hidalgo County Assistant District Attorney Jay Garza asked a jury of four women and eight men to step into during opening arguments Wednesday afternoon in the murder case against 34-year-old Mercedes resident Fidencio Castillo Cosme.
It was an eventful day Wednesday, as this case proved to be the first major jury trial since the onset of the pandemic.
Fidencio, along with his brother, 37-year-old Juan Jose Cosme, are charged with murder for the fatal Sept. 28, 2020 stabbing of Armando Torres IV.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charge and Juan is awaiting trial.
To open, Garza guided the jury through the state’s version of Torres’ fatal walk that day that ended when Fidencio and Juan exited their mother’s house at 618 Heidrick Ave. and attacked and killed Torres.
Calling the brothers “dirty,” “vile,” “terrifying grown men,” Garza said Juan put Torres in a headlock before Fidencio began slashing at his forearms, ultimately stabbing him in the chest.
“You’ve been attacked and you’ve been brutally stabbed in the chest, and you labor and you labor and you think about your family and friends, and you die, Garza said.
He told the jury that the case against Fidencio includes three key points: a blood trail that ended at 618 Heidrick Ave.; two eye witnesses to the attack; and Fidencio’s own statement to Mercedes police.
“This is not a difficult case,” Garza said.
Fidencio’s statement to police was challenged Wednesday morning, before the jury arrived at the courthouse.
O. Rene Flores, who represents Fidencio, sought to have that statement thrown out, arguing that investigator Danny Longoria did not properly read Fidencio his Miranda rights and instead used a “go-by sheet.”
Assistant District Attorney Vance Gonzales argued during the hearing that Fidencio’s Miranda rights were substantially provided to him and met the bar required by law.
The video-taped statement will be allowed during the trial.
In that video, Fidencio admitted to stabbing Torres.
The statement also revealed the suspected motive in the case.
Fidencio said in the statement that the night before the stabbing he had been sleeping when he heard a sound and got up to check his backyard, which is when he said he witnessed people at the back of his house watching an Explorer, where he said his brother had been stashing money.
When asked who he saw, Fidencio said: “That dude that I stabbed.”
He then described a confrontation with the people, who he said had a pipe. During that incident, he told his brother to go grab a machete.
“They were trying to steal from us and s—,” Fidencio said.
The following day, Fidencio said he saw one of those people from the night before, Torres, walking down the street with headphones on.
“I go back to my room. I grab something and go f—— stab him,” Fidencio said.
Fidencio’s attorneys, Flores and Mauricio Martinez, deferred opening statements Wednesday until they present their defense after the state rests its case.
Thus far, two witnesses have testified.
The first witness was Fox News South Texas reporter Daisy Espinoza.
She attended the brothers’ first appearance in front of Weslaco Municipal Judge Juan Alvarez and recorded the proceeding. She testified that Fidencio twice admitted to stabbing Torres while she recorded him.
Espinoza provided the state of Texas with the full raw version of her video, but it wasn’t published to the jury.
The second witness was Isaac Mora, a patrol officer with the Mercedes Police Department.
At the time of the murder he was an investigator, but has since stepped back from the position for an undisclosed personal reason.
He testified to his limited role in the investigation, which involved clearing the house at 618 Heidrick Ave. for any suspects, talking to the brothers’ mother and responding to a nearby area where Juan was arrested.
Evidence continues Thursday morning and the trial is expected to stretch into next week.