EDINBURG — A jury on Tuesday found 37-year-old Gabino Salinas guilty of murdering a 32-year-old Edinburg man after nearly four hours of deliberation.
Salinas killed Jose Angel Martinez after beating and dragging him with his white Jeep Grand Cherokee and eventually dismembering the man with the help of accomplices on Nov. 8, 2017.
He was convicted of capital murder and possession of marijuana.
The conviction followed five days of testimony last week that featured 16 witnesses and more than 300 exhibits that were entered into evidence for the jury’s review.
Salinas had also been charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault, but state District Judge Rose Guerra-Reyna dropped the charges due to incorrect dates listed on the indictment.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Analiz Deleon-Vargas reminded jurors Salinas told investigator Javier Vargas that he felt as though he was outsmarting police during his initial interview.
“You see the smugness on his face,” Deleon-Vargas said.
She also countered the defense’s closing arguments regarding a lack of physical evidence by saying that there weren’t a lot of blood samples to be tested because Martinez’s body had been decomposing for so long that the muscle tissue that forensics expert Norma Jean Farley submitted for DNA testing couldn’t be used.
Attorney O. Rene Flores had argued that a lot of the evidence in the case came back as inconclusive for Salinas’ DNA and that there was barely any blood in the Cherokee despite several witnesses testifying Martinez was covered in blood.
Flores showed the jury pictures of Martinez’s home after the attack again, pointing out the amount of blood on the floor and walls. If Martinez had been bleeding profusely, the Jeep would have been covered with it as well, he argued.
The jury, however, believed the prosecutor’s arguments.
Salinas is scheduled to be sentenced Monday morning.
Co-defendants Benjamin Chavez Sanchez, 25, Sandy Lutz, 32, and Hector Ruben Guerra, 48, are facing charges of capital murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated kidnapping.
They have pleaded not guilty.