Man found guilty of murder in 2010 shooting death
Feb. 17, 2011 at 8 p.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2011 at 8:17 p.m.
A Victoria man's claim of self-defense was not enough to keep a jury from finding him guilty of murder on Thursday.
Enrique Guayo Guerra, also known as "Ricky," 19, of Victoria, testified Thursday morning that he shot 21-year-old Joe Angel Caltzontzin last April out of fear that he had a knife.
But the jury in the trial found him guilty of murder Thursday afternoon.
Guerra said he became upset at Caltzontzin and the victim's father, 50-year-old Angel Caltzontzin, the day before the shooting.
The deceased had pulled a knife on Guerra's 14-year-old brother over a missing $400, which the father claimed disappeared after he stayed the night at Guerra's mother's house a month before the shooting, the defendant said.
After hearing the story, Guerra and his friend Juan Chavez, who was 16 years old at the time, went to the older Caltzontzin's trailer at 2204 E. North St. to confront the father and son about the issue.
He said as he asked about the knife incident, he turned and looked back toward the car he and Chavez were riding in to make sure Chavez was still in the driver's seat.
During that time, Guerra said, Caltzontzin's hit him in the jaw.
Then Guerra said he spotted an unidentified shiny object in Caltzontzin's free hand.
This prompted him to pull a gun he wore on his right hip for protection and shoot in Caltzontzin's direction while he ran toward the car.
"The first thing through my mind was it was a knife because I was told Joe Angel Caltzontzin pulled a knife on my little brother so that's what I thought it was," said Guerra.
He added he looked back as they drove off and saw the victim stumbling toward the trailer.
Dr. David Dolinak, chief medical examiner for the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office, said Caltzontzin, who had low levels of marijuana in his system, sustained three gunshot wounds during the incident.
Tyler argued that the shiny object in Caltzontzin's hand was his cell phone. He also argued that Guerra was sitting in the car when the shooting occurred.
Chavez and Guerra returned to a party they had attended earlier that day where they made arrangements for the car's owner to drive him to Falfurrias.
Guerra said he considered turning himself in to law enforcement.
"I thought about it but decided not to because I was scared they wouldn't believe me," said Guerra.
Guerra was arrested without incident at a HPL safe house in Falfurrias by a multi-jurisdiction joint task force consisting of the Department of Public Safety, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Border Patrol, Falfurrias Police Department and the Brooks County Sheriff's Office.
Although Guerra previously admitted to law enforcement that he was a member of the HPL, he denied it Thursday.
"This was not a gang hit," said defense attorney Bill White, who described his client as "easily excitable" during closing arguments. "Why run unless it is self-defense?"
Guerra faces five to 99 years in prison with parole eligibility or a life sentence, said Victoria County District Attorney Steve Tyler, who is prosecuting the case.
However, if the defense can show that Guerra's mind was operating under sudden passion during the incident, his first-degree murder charge could be reduced to second-degree murder, which yields a sentence of two to 10 years and probation eligibility.