Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jury sentences Martha Hernandez

Updated: Monday, 22 Nov 2010, 10:47 PM CST
Published : Monday, 22 Nov 2010, 9:30 PM CST

Austin(KXAN) - A jury sentenced Martha Hernandez for the murder of Christy Espinosa, 21, after a Mardi Gras party on 6th Street. Hernandez received 60 years for murder and 20 years for "tampering with evidence." The sentences, which will run concurrently, came Monday night after a little more than two hours of deliberations

Espinosa's father said the sentence was satisfying.

"They could have been swayed, but they saw right through it," said Tony Espinosa when thanking the jury.

The sentencing phase began with several witnesses, including Espinosa's mother and father, making testimony that could effect the jury's decision on punishment.

"They say life is not fair, but this goes beyond that," said Tony Espinosa, Christy's father, told the jury. "Things like this should not happen and when they do happen there needs to be serious consequences."

Diana Espinosa become emotional on the stand when speaking in front of jurors about her daughter.

"When you have a child, it is the best day of your life," she said. "When you lose a child, it is unbearable."

The key testimony in the week-long trial came Friday afternoon from Hernandez’s sister-in-law, Rebecca Hernandez, who told jurors Hernandez admitted to suffocating Espinosa and burning her body in an attempt to fake her own death.

“She wanted police to think she was dead so they would leave her alone, since she had warrants,” said Rebecca Hernandez, speaking about her sister-in-law's criminal history.

Rebecca Hernandez said the confession came at a hotel room in Mexico when she and Kenneth Hernandez - Martha Hernandez's husband and Rebecca Hernandez’s brother - went to pick up Martha Hernandez after the murder.

Kenneth Hernandez is expected to stand trial for the same charges on Dec. 3.

In interrogation tapes played for the jury last week, Martha Hernandez told detectives her husband killed Espinosa after giving her Xanax at a Sixth Street bar on the night of the 2009 Mardi Gras celebration.

During the interrogation, Hernandez changed her story multiple times. Initially, she said she did now know Espinosa and then said the girl passed out in her car and would not wake. Eventually, Hernandez blamed her husband for the murder and the burning of the body.

Defense attorneys tried to convince the jury that Kenneth Hernandez controlled her actions during that time and that the testimony from Rebecca Hernandez could be an effort to save her brother.

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