September 8, 2008

Trial of man accused of killing his two children begins

By TIARA M. ELLIS / The Dallas Morning News

A death penalty trial is scheduled to begin today in Dallas for a 29-year-old man accused of killing his two young children after their mother, his longtime girlfriend, told authorities that he had abused her and threatened them.

Hector Rolando Medina and his girlfriend, Elia Martinez-Bermudez, had been together for five years when she decided to leave him last year. She told police that he had repeatedly abused her physically and raped her.

Ms. Martinez-Bermudez, now 24, sought a protective order on March 2, 2007. Two days later, she returned to her Irving home to find police inside with her mortally wounded children.

Police say Mr. Medina shot the two – Javier, 3, and Diana, 8 months – before shooting himself in the neck.

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.

Donna Winfield, Mr. Medina's attorney, tried during pretrial discussions to persuade prosecutors to give her client life in prison with no opportunity for parole, the only other punishment available in capital murder cases.

"These types of cases are never about responsibility, or who did it," Ms. Winfield said last week. "What was going on mentally with the person? That's more the crux of the case."

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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Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?