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Monday, May 2, 2016

Flood of motions filed in Se˝or Carlos murder case

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Sept. 13, 2011 trial date has been set for Pablo Gonzalez, who is charged in connection with the Oct. 25, 2010 murder of Jesus Meza. Attorney Patrick Benca, who specializes in death penalty cases, has filed 46 Circuit Court motions, as he begins Gonzalez's defense.
On Monday, March 7, Fulton County Prosecuting Attorney Dwayne Plumlee came out of Circuit Judge Tim Weaver's chambers carrying a thick book.

The book, tossed on his courtroom desk, is full of laws and procedures used in death penalty cases, an indication that Plumlee has a challenging task ahead.

The book was a sign that Little Rock attorney, Patrick Benca, a defense attorney who specializes in death penalty cases, was finally ready to begin his defense of Jorge Pablo Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is charged with capital murder for allegedly plotting the Oct. 24, 2010 murder of Jesus Meza, a co-worker at the Se˝or Carlos restaurant in Salem, and paying another restaurant employee, Diego Villonueva, to commit the murder.

Meza was allegedly killed at the restaurant the night of the 24th and his body was tossed into the bed of his pickup truck, where it was discovered in Izard County on Monday, Oct. 25.

On the 25th, Gonzalez allegedly confessed to involvement in the crime, while being questioned at the restaurant by investigators and he and Villonueva, who is also charged with capital murder, made full confessions later that night.

"I want to inform the court of motions filed, approximately 50 of them," Benca told Judge Weaver during the circuit court session. "I hope to set a hearing to address the motions."

During a Feb. 25 session, Judge Weaver expressed frustration to Public Defender Shane Ethridge that Benca had failed to appear in court or take any action to represent his client in the death penalty case.

"This has been pending since October," said Weaver. "He (Benca) needs to get with it. This is a capital murder case and he has not done much with it."

Benca apparently got the message.

In court on March 8, Benca mentioned his busy schedule, when discussing the need to delay Gonzalez's trial date. He is one of two attorneys representing Abdulhakim Muhammad, who shot and killed one man and wounded another at an Army recruiting center in Little Rock in June of 2009. Muhammad, who also faces a capital murder charge, is to go on trial on July 18, 2011.

Because of that complication, Judge Weaver set a pre-trial hearing for Aug. 23 and a trial date of Sept. 13.

Before the session, Benca got busy on Gonzalez's case, filing a large stack of motions, 46 in all.

While it took Benca four months to file any motions in the case, one motion seeks "to require the state to timely respond in writing to defendant's pretrial motions."

Other motions prosecutors will have to respond to include a request that Gonzalez be present at all hearings involving his case and another that Gonzalez appear in court in civilian clothing, with no handcuffs or other restraints.

Other motions deal with courtroom decorum.

Benca wants Judge Weaver to "prohibit emotional outbursts of approval or disapproval or other disruptive and prejudicial behavior in the courtroom."

Another motion seeks to prescribe how Benca is referred to in court. He asks the judge to prohibit any reference to him as "public defender," "court appointed counsel," "Little Rock Attorneys," or "big city lawyers."

Should the case go to trial, Benca's motions request that a jury reflect a cross section of the community and that he get additional pre-emptory challenges of potential jurors during jury selection.

Benca also wants an agreement that jurors in the case will be paid their current wages and be fully reimbursed for day care costs, over the course of a trial.

Other motions challenge the legality of the death penalty, including one which seeks to "prohibit the death penalty on the grounds that historically the death penalty has been arbitrarily and capriciously imposed in a racially discriminatory manner."

The motion potentially most damaging to the prosecution is a "Motion to Suppress."

The motion seeks to "Suppress any and all illegally obtained evidence and any statement made by the defendant herein."

In the motion Benca claims, "The Defendant (Gonzalez) was subjected to unlawful arrest."

According to Benca, "there was no probable cause" to arrest Gonzalez, that his arrest was an "illegal pretext for an investigation," and police conducted a search without consent or a proper search warrant.

For those reasons, Benca wants all evidence collected to be suppressed, along with any statements Gonzalez made to police, claiming the statements were "involuntary" and given "as a result of improper interrogation by the government."

Other motions seek to require investigating officers to retain their "rough notes" and to suppress statements made "by the alleged accomplice or co-conspirator."

Villonueva also faces a capital murder charge. His attorneys, Katherine Streett and Christopher ˝˝˝˝ of Little Rock, have filed five motions during the months they have represented Villonueva.

Their motions seek to allow Villonueva to wear civilian clothes during court appearances, a request for discovery (prosecution evidence) and timely response to their motions.

Villonueva is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on May 4, with his trial set to begin on June 21.

As they await trial, Gonzalez and Villonueva are being held at the Izard County Detention Center in separate cell blocks to prevent contact with each other.

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why doesnt the State just give them a plea deal--how many hundreds of thousands of dollars and years will it take to try this case and then dispose of this case with all the death penalty appeals that will happen. This scum isn't worth it

-- Posted by conventional1 on Thu, Mar 24, 2011, at 9:25 AM

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