death penalty news—-TEXAS

Jan. 19


Trial for 2004 McKinney quadruple homicide focuses on man who once

The capital murder trial of Raul Cortez, one of two defendants charged
with killing 4 people in McKinney, has been overshadowed by the presence
of a man originally charged with the crime.

Cortez has been all but invisible in the death-penalty case as attention
has been focused on the missteps made by McKinney police during interviews
with narcotics informant James Jones, who confessed to the crime a month
after the March 12, 2004, killings. Jones also implicated 2 other

But the case against those 3 men quickly crumbled when Jones recanted his
confession and charges against them were dropped.

As a result, McKinney police came under fire for rushing to make arrests
in the high-profile crime and for the way they handled the investigation.
Collin County prosecutor Greg Davis said last week he knew the police
investigation of Jones would play a large role in this trial.

"The bulk of this case is undoing what's been done," said Davis, who still
hopes to present evidence against Cortez before the end of this week.

Prosecutors say Cortez went to the McKinney home of Rosa Barbosa, 46, and
shot her to death. He also is accused of shooting and killing her nephew,
Mark Barbosa, 25, and his friends, Matthew Self, 17; and Austin York, 18.
Authorities have said the motive was robbery.

When the trial began last Monday, defense attorney Richard Franklin put
Jones at center stage during his opening arguments to the jury. Jones
"knew things that only a person who had been at the crime scene would
know," he said.

With that salvo, prosecutors turned their attention to proving that Jones
in an attempt to make a deal on unrelated criminal charges lied to police
when he told them he had knowledge about the murders that only the killer
could know.

McKinney police Sgt. Steve Riley testified that Jones was questioned by
several officers, who he said may have given him information about the
crime during interviews.

Riley, who spent more than 2 days on the witness stand, told the jury that
investigators did not realize Jones "was interrogating us as much as we
were interrogating him."

Riley testified that he had drawn a diagram of the crime scene during one
interview with Jones. It showed the rooms where the victims were found and
how they were positioned. Riley told the jury that he'd left the drawing
in the interview room with Jones. When other officers came in to resume
the interrogation, Jones told them that he'd made the drawing, Riley

The jury was shown videotaped police interviews with a mumbling and often
incoherent Jones, who insisted that he was in the McKinney house on the
night of the killings. He knew that the victims included "white kids" and
a woman and that all the victims had been shot in the head.

"All you've told me is [expletive] that's been in the newspapers and on
TV," a frustrated police interrogator tells Jones at one point. "You tell
me something that ain't in the papers."

But Jones was unable to tell investigators details about the crime that
had not been publicized, such as the color of the duct tape that bound one
victim or the location of the weapons.

And DNA evidence failed to find any link between Jones and the other 2
suspects he implicated in the crime, according to an expert witness who
testified last week.

Jones and the other 2 men were released in 2004. Three years later, police
got a break in the stalled case when a woman went to authorities and told
them her boyfriend, Eddie Ray Williams, was involved in the slayings.

Authorities eventually charged Williams and Cortez with 5 counts of
capital murder 1 count for each of the 4 victims, and an additional
charge for more than 1 murder occurring during the same incident.

Authorities linked DNA from a cigarette discarded by Cortez to evidence
collected from the crime scene. The Collin County jury hearing the case
has not heard testimony about that evidence yet but could as early as this

A trial date for Williams has not been set, but he is expected to testify
during the trial, which is scheduled to resume Tuesday.

Jones, who is serving a 10-year sentence for aggravated kidnapping in
connection with another crime, is also expected to testify during the

(source: Dallas Morning News)