Second defendant in horrific San Antonio beating, dismemberment to be retried
The cousin and co-defendant of a San Antonio man who recently was sentenced to life in prison for the death and dismemberment of another man is set to be retried Friday.
A jury was seated Thursday in the retrial of Gabriel Moreno, 36. He is one of three co-defendants accused in the killing of Jose Luis Menchaca, 35, on Sept. 30, 2014.
Moreno’s first trial began Feb. 23 but state District Judge Ron Rangel declared a mistrial March 9 after jurors told him they were hopelessly deadlocked and could not reach a unanimous verdict after four days of deliberations.
Moreno’s cousin, Daniel Moreno Lopez, 32, initially was tried last year but those proceedings also ended in a mistrial, on allegations of discovery violations.
Lopez was then retried in late May and was convicted of murder by a jury in June. Lopez chose to have his punishment decided by Rangel. After a two-and-a-half-day pre-sentence investigation hearing that prompted high security measures in the courtroom, he was sentenced Nov. 2 to life in prison.
Lopez will have to serve at least 30 years before he is eligible for parole.
Menchaca’s cousin and Lopez’s then-girlfriend and co-defendant, Candie Dominguez, 39, is awaiting trial.
Witnesses have testified that Menchaca was killed in retaliation for a stabbing that stemmed from a drug deal gone bad between Lopez and the victim. Menchaca and his girlfriend, Sylvia Flores, were lured to a home Lopez shared with Dominguez in the 400 block of Hillwood Drive on the North Side, where Menchaca was beaten with aluminum baseball bats, then strangled. His arms and legs were cut off, then burned on a backyard barbecue pit.
Moreno is accused of joining Lopez in killing Menchaca and disposing of his body.
Authorities found parts of Menchaca’s remains a few weeks later in a blue plastic bin in the garage of the Hillwood home.
Flores has testified she was held against her will for several days after the killing.
The retrial is being heard in the 379th state District Court.
If convicted, Moreno has chosen to be sentenced by Rangel. He faces up to life in prison.
Elizabeth Zavala is a courts and crime reporter in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @elizabeth2863