Family members say Facebook posts provide details of stabbing victim's death
HOW TO HELP
The Baladez family is accepting donations toward Billy Baladez's funeral costs. Contact Emma Rodriguez and Maria Pineda for more information. Call Rodriguez at 361-578-5572, or Pineda at 361-218-5788.
Friends and family of Billy Jack Baladez said a series of Facebook messages told the real story of what happened the night he died.
Baladez, 23, died early Saturday morning after being stabbed multiple times.
Fabian Lee "Pilar" Garcia, 22, was arrested on Saturday and charged with felony murder in Baladez's death.
Both men were Bloomington residents.
After being notified of Baladez's death, friends took to Facebook in search of consolation and answers.
A few status updates in particular caught the eye of friend Laura Rodriguez, who immediately snapped photos of the posts with a camera phone in hopes they could be used as future evidence.
The updates were posted within hours of Baladez's death by a person alleging to be JP Dqat Rodriguez:
"I was front row it was 3 on 2... me n(sic) homeboii (sic) n (sic) those 3 dudes... I wasn't gnna (sic) let homeboii (sic) down."
"Jss (sic) saw a dude got killed...a IDK Baladez i think umm sum Billy...idk."
"Guess truth hurts now I gots (sic) to disappear from everyone..so deuce yall Mayflowers."
Rodriguez said the posts were erased not long after they were posted.
"He admitted to doing it on Facebook," Rodriguez said angrily.
Rocky Rodriguez, Baladez's friend and roommate, said the victim left their house about 12:30 a.m. after learning that Garcia was looking to fight him.
"(Baladez) said, 'I'm going to handle this, then he took off,'" said the roommate. About 45 minutes later, Rocky Rodriguez said he received word that Baladez was dead.
News of Baladez's death left his friends and family puzzled.
Jose Baladez, the victim's cousin, said at one time Garcia and Billy Baladez were friends.
He also denied that the Baladez and Garcia families had an ongoing feud.
Billy Baladez most likely thought he was going to engage in an old-fashioned, weapon-free fist-fight with Garcia that the two would laugh about later, as was the case with most Bloomington fights, said Rocky Rodriguez.
Jose Baladez refuted Garcia's claims of self-defense.
"How can it be self-defense when he stabbed him repeatedly and then went around bragging about it?"
Since the stabbing, residents said rumors of retaliation have been rampant throughout the city.
"We're not bad people like they say we are. Nobody is retaliating. We are just glad they caught the guy," said Jose Baladez. "I hope he gets what he deserves and so does whoever else was involved with it."
Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor also spoke on the rumored retaliation.
"Due to circumstances of this event ... an increased sheriff's office presence in the community will continue until further notice," O'Connor said.
Like Garcia, Billy Baladez's family said he too was in the midst of changing his life at the time of the incident.
One of nine brothers and 10 sisters, Billy Baladez's life spiraled downward after his father's death, said family members.
The victim's criminal history included convictions in 2007 and 2009 for misdemeanor evasion of arrest/detention; a 2010 conviction for misdemeanor burglary of a vehicle; a 2007 felony conviction for theft of less than $50; and a 2008 felony conviction for unauthorized use of a vehicle.
He served a combined total of almost four years in state jail and paid $1,279 in fines for the crimes he was charged with.
He was released for the last time shortly after Thanksgiving. His family said that is when he began to make changes in his life.
In addition to looking for a job, Billy Baladez also attended all meetings with his probation officer and all of his probation-mandated classes in Victoria, sometimes even attempting to walk to Victoria if he could not find a ride, said Laura Rodriguez.
Looking back, however, relatives said Baladez's actions before his death made it seem like he knew his life was coming to an end.
He asked, "If I die, are you going to cry for me?" said his roommate, who said Baladez had organized a gathering with all of his friends shortly before his death.
In their time of grief, Baladez's loved ones said they are choosing to remember the good times they had with him.
"He was very friendly and always playing around," said Billy Baldez's sister Maria Pineda. "His memories still make us laugh."
"Billy would make you laugh before he tried to fight you," said Rocky Rodriguez.
"He had a lot of heart. I can't believe he's dead. I think about him coming down the street yelling my name. That's Billy," said Jose Baladez. "He's going to be missed."
O'Connor said additional arrests are not likely.
"By the witness statements and others, we are confident we arrested the actor who committed the assault."
He said the case is still under investigation.