McAllen man bought hunting knife, duct tape before his ex-wife’s murder

Richard Ford looks over at the jury before the start of his trial at the 206th state district court Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])
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By Francisco E. Jimenez and Xavier Alvarez | Staff Writers

EDINBURG — A Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office investigator on Monday afternoon testified that Richard Ford bought a knife and duct tape in the days leading up to his ex-wife’s kidnapping and murder.

Melissa Banda

The testimony comes in his fourth day of trial over the murder of his ex-wife Melissa Banda Aug. 6, 2020.

HCSO investigator Lucio Torres testified that Ford made several purchases on Aug. 3, 2020 in the McAllen area, including a disposable razor, a hunting knife, duct tape, cable ties, BBs, CO2 cartridges and an Airsoft handgun.

On Aug. 5, 2020, one day before the murder, Torres testified that Ford bought tweezers, chocolate and box cutter knives.

Torres also described Ford’s trip from McAllen to the Island where he was arrested, including the spot where Banda’s body was found and a stop at the Walmart in Harlingen where he bought a shirt, pants, a foldable chair and a blanket, which is what he was found with at the beach.

On Monday morning, police officers who responded to incidents involving the suspect and victim prior to the murder testified.

State prosecutors called Monica ​​Treviño to testify about an incident that occurred on Feb. 28, 2020. Treviño is an investigator with the McAllen Police Department’s Crimes Against Persons Unit. She interrogated both Banda and Ford at the police station following the incident.

Before hearing her testimony, State District Judge Rose Guerra Reyna instructed the jury not to consider other offenses not pertaining to this particular case.

​​The prosecution played video footage from Ford’s interrogation. He was seen entering the interrogation room with ​​Treviño in handcuffs.

In the video, ​​Treviño is heard reading Ford his Miranda Rights before listening to Ford’s recollection of the events that transpired earlier that day.

“We’re going through a divorce, me and my wife,” he can be heard saying.

He went on to explain that he had gone to Banda’s house to speak to her about his recent visit to a bank just prior. Shortly after, he claimed that an argument ensued outside of her house.

“The last thing I need is the police to be involved,” he told ​​Treviño during the interrogation.

Ford said that Banda began making her way inside the house, but he told her that he was not finished speaking with her. He said that she tried slamming the door on him, but he held out his hand to stop the door from closing. It was at this point he claimed that Banda began to scream and threw herself on the ground.

“I grabbed her and held her because she was being hysterical,” Ford said.

He told ​​Treviño that he tried to shush her and calm her down.

“I didn’t beat her or nothing,” he later said.

He told the investigator that he held her against the wall.

“I wasn’t trying to choke her.”

Richard Ford, accused of killing his ex-wife, is escorted by deputies to the 206th state district court Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

He said that he took Banda into the garage and gave her some water to try to calm her before her sister arrived, which was when he left.

“She’s paranoid for some reason,” he said earlier in the interrogation. “We’ve been married for 13 years and I’ve never laid a hand on her.”

He said that he did not know what led to police getting involved. He recalled going to a trampoline park with their children after the incident, which is where police arrived and placed him under arrest.

He added that they’d had arguments in the past, but that incident was their first “actual fight.”

Ford then asked about his bond, asked if any pictures had been taken of Banda, and then asked if he could see the pictures. He said that he just wanted to know so that he could “lawyer up,” before the video concluded.

​​Treviño told the court that Ford appeared to be calm but also upset about the charge he was facing, 3rd degree felony assault for impeding breath. The investigator was also asked about Banda, who she described as “very nervous and frightened.”

When questioned by defense attorneys, ​​Treviño said that she did not see any cuts or bruises on Banda.

Prosecutors then called two McAllen police officers to testify about two separate incidents that occurred on July 17, 2020 and July 18, 2020 — less than a month before Banda’s murder on Aug. 6, 2020.

Reyna again instructed the jury not to consider any offenses that were not relevant to the case before hearing testimony from McAllen police officers David Balboa and Wvence Anzaldua.

Rose Guerra Reyna of the 206th state district court speaks with Hope Palacios, left, and Jaime Aleman, right during the Richard Ford trial Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Balboa told the court that he responded to Banda’s home at around 6:30 p.m. on July 17, 2020.

“She was scared and afraid, concerned about some calls,” Balboa recalled. He said that he confirmed with dispatch that Banda had an active protective order against Ford at the time.

He recalled Banda showing him screenshots of phone calls made to her phone from two different numbers. He recalled seeing 28 phone calls in the screenshot, which made him file a police report “because he was excessive.”

Anzaldua responded the very next day to a similar call regarding a violation of a protective order. Like Balboa the previous day, Anzaldua confirmed the protective order against Ford before continuing with his investigation.

He told the court that Banda seemed scared and “felt harassed.” He said that he saw and documented six phone calls made to Banda’s phone, but he did not take any pictures because he did not have a camera.

Anzaldua also told the court that he spent close to an hour with Banda, and during that time she did not receive any phone calls.

The trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning.