July 19, 2013 http://www.chron.com
It took more than two decades for Angelo Garcia‘s mother to see her 6-year-old son’s killer sent to death row.
On Friday, she said it was worth it.
“It’s the greatest news, and it took 21 years,” the woman said after jurors sent Obel Cruz-Garcia to death row for the 1992 slaying. “It was good when they got the DNA, but this is better.”
Cruz-Garcia marks the first defendant from Harris County this year to receive the death penalty.
Over the past two weeks, jurors heard a brutal story about a home invasion that turned into a rape that turned into a kidnapping and murder. They also learned it was the sexual assault that ultimately led police to identify the 45-year-old.
Cruz-Garcia was serving time for kidnapping in Puerto Rico in 2007 when DNA from the 15-year-old rape kit tied him to the 1992 case.
Cruz-Garcia and another man were wearing ski masks when they broke in to the family’s south Houston apartment around midnight on Sept. 30, 1992.
The child’s mother and stepfather testified they were part of the defendant’s cocaine-trafficking operation. They said they were tied up while the duo ransacked the home.
The men then fled with Angelo in a car driven by a third man, who testified that Cruz-Garcia and the other suspect took the child to a Baytown lake, where he was stabbed. His remains were found in the lake about a month later.
On Monday, jurors convicted Cruz-Garcia of capital murder after deliberating about four hours. After days of more testimony, they sentenced him to die Friday.
Thinking about the time between crime and punishment left the victim’s family weeping after the verdict.
‘Waited all these years’
“We just waited all these years, all this time, and it finally happened,” said Angelo’s brother, James Garcia, with tears in his eyes.
Cruz-Garcia, who jumped bail on a felony drug case to flee the country two days after the abduction, was brought back to Houston in 2008 for trial.
Prosecutors praised the verdict after jurors deliberated about seven hours over two days.
“It’s an important decision, and sometimes it takes some people a little bit longer to get there,” said Assistant Harris County District Attorney Natalie Tise. “All in all, they weren’t deliberating all that long.”
Defense lawyers for Cruz-Garcia said they were disappointed and that the defendant is focused on his appeal.
Cruz-Garcia did not react to the verdict when read by state District Judge Renee Magee.
“He was pretty even-keeled through the entire trial,” said defense attorney Mario Madrid. “He didn’t show a lot of emotion during the trial or after trial.”
Cruz-Garcia has denied any involvement in the home invasion, the abduction or the child’s death.