DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The chilling blow by blow of a murder for hire. Testimony from an admitted accomplice dominates day two of testimony in the trial of a man accused of murdering Dallas dentist Kendra Hatcher in exchange for drugs and cash.
Kristopher Love is facing the death penalty if convicted in the September 2015 ambush killing.
Crystal Cortes, 26, admitted to jurors that she was an integral part of the plan to kill Dr. Hatcher after Brenda Delgado, the obsessive ex of Hatcher’s new boyfriend, began shopping for someone willing to carry out the murder.
Prosecutor Kevin Brooks asked Cortes when they began planning. She replied, “Two weeks after I met Brenda, we started planning for the murder.”
For two hours, without emotion and without apparent remorse, Cortes told jurors about how she, Delgado, and sometimes Love used different vehicles to follow Dr. Hatcher between her work and home while considering different options to kill her.
“Inject her with a needle,” testified Cortes, “another plan was to shoot her directly, and another plan was to kidnap her.” And then Cortes told jurors that Love weighed in on the murderous plot, adding “He pretty much said that it would be easier to just kill her, with the gun.”
Prosecutor Brooks asked if there was ever a plan for the attack to just be a robbery? Cortes replied, “No… it was planned to be a murder to look like a robbery gone bad.”
Cortes told jurors that Delgado still shared a cell phone account with her ex, Dr. Ricardo Paniagua, so she was able to keep up with his whereabouts.
“She tracked Rickey on his Iphone,” Cortes testified, “she would find him on the FindMe App. That’s how she knew where Kendra lived. She would follow Ricky that way.”
Then on the evening of September 2, 2015, Cortes says she and Love followed another vehicle into Dr. Hatcher’s Uptown area parking garage and waited for her to arrive.
“When I heard the shots fired, I knew he had killed Kendra Hatcher and that’s when I backed out.”
Cortes told jurors that with Love hiding in the backseat, she drove to an abandoned house in Pleasant Grove where they used disinfectant wipes to clean up the borrowed black Jeep later shown on surveillance video around the country.
She testified that she dropped Love back off at his apartment, and then picked up her son who was being watched by her grandmother before going to meet up with Brenda Delgado. She would later take a selfie of the $500 she was paid for participating in the murder… and she turned the cash into a heart shape in her hand.
Cortes is, by her own admission, a cold blooded killer. She is also, defense attorneys say, a pathological liar.
“In fact,” asked defense attorney Paul Johnson, “you’ve never told the same story twice!”
“That’s correct,” replied Cortes.
Johnson has suggested to jurors that Cortes’ testimony isn’t credible because she is trying to save her own life. On cross examination he asked her if she “became afraid that you were going to be facing the maximum penalty for this crime… is that correct?” Cortes replied “Yes,sir.”
In exchange for her testimony, Cortes pleaded guilty and will receive a 35 year prison sentence after testifying against Brenda Delgado sometime next year.
Delgado is also charged with capital murder; but, will not face the death penalty because of an extradition arrangement with Mexico. She fled there after police questioned her shortly after the murder.
Testimony resumes Wednesday morning at 8:30 in the 363rd District Court before Judge Tracy Holmes.