September 8, 2008

Hector Medina's attorney plans to show why dad killed his two kids

By TIARA M. ELLIS / The Dallas Morning News

The defense attorney for a man accused of killing his two children said during opening statements at his trial today that she would show jurors why the shootings took place.

"This case is not a whodunit," said defense attorney Donna Winfield in the capital murder trial of Hector Medina. "The entire responsibility of what happened that day lies with Hector Medina. We want to know why."

Hector Rolando Medina Mr. Medina, 29, is accused of fatally shooting 8-month-old Diana and 3-year-old Javier before shooting himself in the head and neck in March 2007. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

Ms. Winfield told the jury that she plans to show that Mr. Medina's girlfriend and mother of his children, Elia Martinez-Bermudez, now 24, had been having an affair with one of their roommates. Ms. Winfield also plans to call a mental health expert to testify about Mr. Medina's mindset.

Prosecutor Pat Kirlin told the jury during opening statements that Ms. Martinez-Bermudez left Mr. Medina days before the shooting in March 2007, because he had threatened to kill her and their children. When she returned to their Irving home one day later from picking up her paycheck, Mr. Medina would not let her back into the home. Their children were inside.

After she left, a couple of the roommates reported hearing some doors bang shut, sounds which were later identified as gunshots, Mr. Kirlin said.

"He had put two bullets through each one of his children" Mr. Kirlin said.

The next day, a district judge granted a protective order to Ms. Martinez-Bermudez. She could not be reached for comment last week, but she is expected to testify during Mr. Medina's trial.

Mr. Medina, who is a citizen of El Salvador, was hospitalized for about a week and then taken to the Dallas County Jail. He has remained there on a federal immigration hold. The bullet remains in his neck, according to court records.

Irving police Sgt. Jef Swann said it's common for violence in an adult relationship to extend to children in the household.

"The husband or wife, if they can't take it out on that person, they'll take it out on the children," said Sgt. Swann, who oversees the Irving police family violence unit. "The kids are regularly caught in the middle."

In an affidavit for the protective order, Ms. Martinez-Bermudez said that "Hector has grabbed me, thrown me, pulled my hair and pinned me down and forced me to have sex with him numerous times."

The week before the shooting, the affidavit said, Mr. Medina assaulted her at the Irving house they shared with another family because she refused to have sex with him.

She said Mr. Medina told her that police would write her a ticket if she called them for no reason.

"Hector stated since I did not have any bruising they would not believe me," Ms. Martinez-Bermudez said. "I believed Hector, so I didn't call for help."

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