DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Jurors found Jose Arreola guilty of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, for the vicious beating of his then girlfriend Maria Escamilla. It took less than three hours for jurors to find the 34-year-old guilty.
Arreola has no reaction when the verdict was read, but members of his family wiped tears from their eyes.
Court is in recess until 3 p.m. at which time the sentencing phase of the trial will begin.
Jurors agreed that Arreola had naearly beaten Escamilla to death. Nine women and 4 men (one juror is designated as an alternate) heard eight days of testimony in a case that prosecutors have called the worst they have ever seen.
It was March 2011 when Escamilla arrived at the hospital having lost nearly 40 percent of her blood supply, and requiring more than 500 stitched to close her wounds. Doctors testified that both of her eyes were swollen shut, ribs and bones in her face were broken, her face and breasts had been slashed and her sexual organs mutilated.
Defense attorneys argued that Escamilla was injured as their client fought to defend himself after she came at him in a drunken, jealous rage—armed with two knives.
During closing arguments Monday morning, prosecutor Brandie Wade called the defense account of the attack a “fantastical tale.” And while apparently acknowledging that portions of Escamilla’s testimony didn’t “line up with the physical evidence,” Wade repeatedly referred to the graphic and disturbing photos of Escamilla’s injuries.
At one point, Escamilla’s emergency room photos were interchanged with pictures of Arreola, highlighting the various areas of his body that were injury free. Arreola had a roughly inch-long cut on the palm of his hand that Wade characterized as “piddly” and “not even requiring stitches.”
Earlier, Assistant District Attorney Andrea Moseley addressed jurors during her portion of the closing saying, “you all know what the truth is—you all know who he really is, because you all saw it on the witness stand.”
Both prosecutors made multiple references to Arreola’s profanity laced testimony. When asked about the altercation on the night of March 13, Arreola claimed Escamilla came at him again with the knives, so he “kicked her in the **expletive** face.” Some jurors gasped and others visibly recoiled at the statement.
Defense attorney Michael J. Todd during closing arguments described Arreola as “not the most eloquent person I know,” and attempted to dismiss the offensive comments as “salty language.” Todd continued to argue that his client acted in self-defense and reminded jurors of testimony that painted Escamilla as violent and dishonest.
“She’s been convicted for possession of more than 50 pounds of marijuana, she’s been to prison for aggravated assault,” attorney Kenneth Witherspoon told the jury, “that’s who she is.” Todd told jurors, “she was trying to kill him and the blood evidence shows that.” Todd also admonished the jury saying, “do not get caught up in the emotion of the injuries.”
But, prosecutors were well aware of the impact of the graphic photos and referred to them often: mocking the defense explanation that a woman’s genitals could be mutilated from “falling on a toilet seat.” Near the end of Wade’s closing, Escamilla rushed from the courtroom in tears.
Arreola faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
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