Brothers Found Guilty in Videotaped Slaying of Policeman
TYLER, Texas (AP) _ A federal jury Monday convicted two brothers of murdering a lawman in an attack partially captured by a video camera.
Baldemar S. Villarreal, 29, and Reynaldo Sambrano Villareal, 24, could be executed under a federal law allowing the death penalty for killing a law enforcement officer while committing a drug offense.
Federal officials said the brothers’ trial was the first in the nation under the 1988 law. Prosecutors said the Villarreals and a third occupant in the car were transporting marijuana from Houston to Chicago when they were pulled over.
Sentencing was scheduled for July 8.
Nacogdoches Constable Darrel Lunsford, 47, was killed in January after he stopped a car on U.S. Highway 59. His patrol car had been equipped with a video camera to record arrests and field sobriety tests.
The camera recorded Lunsford walking up to the car and three men beating, kicking and stabbing him. Lundsford was shot out of the camera’s view, but the tape showed Baldemar Villarreal with the officer’s gun.
A third man, Jesus Zambrano, who was asleep in the backseat of the car, is shown on the tape joining in the attack. Jurors saw the seven-minute videotape last Friday.
The suspects were apprehended after an extensive manhunt in eastern Texas.
The defense rested its case early Monday with neither defendant taking the stand. The jury deliberated for two hours before convicting them.
Zambrano, 22, pleaded guilty in April and agreed to testify against the brothers. Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against Zambrano in exchange for his testimony. He faces 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.