Man Pleads Not Guilty As Murder Trial Opens
By PHILLIP WILLIAMS
GILMER -- Testimony in the murder trial of Glenn Wade Myers Jr. opened Monday with the daughter-in-law of the victim testifying she saw Myers with a gun near the scene after hearing a gunshot.
Myers, 55, of Big Sandy, is charged with shooting his sister, 52-year-old Cindy Espinoza, outside her rural Nutmeg Road home near Big Sandy on July 2. He pled not guilty Monday, one week after a six-man, six-woman jury was seated for the trial in 115th District Court.
Testimony resumes at 8:30 a.m. today. Judge Lauren Parish of the 115th District told jurors late Monday afternoon they might receive the case by noon today. The state presented 11 witnesses Monday, including emotional testimony from Mrs. Espinoza's daughter and daughter-in-law, who were nearby when the victim was shot in the face with a .410-gauge shotgun.
The daughter-in-law, Nochell White, said she was talking on the phone in her home on the family property when she heard a gunshot.
"I saw Glenn running across the clearing" between his trailer on the property and Ms. Espinoza's home, Ms. White testified. "He had a gun in his hand. ... He was moving at a fast pace, but he was hobbling because he had a limp."
The victim's daughter, Dawn Tigue, testified before Ms. White and wept as she recounted the events of July 2. She said she was sitting on her bed, reading a book when "I heard a boom."
She said she went out on the front porch, looked off to the side and saw her mother lying on the ground. She said she called her mother's name, but got no response, and that she called 911.
After that, Ms. Tigue said, she returned to her mother to find "blood everywhere" and "I saw that part of her mouth was missing." She said she then went to her brother's house and told Ms. White "something happened to Mom."
Every time she screamed for help, Ms. Tigue testified, music from a radio in Myers' house "would just get louder and louder." She said her mother had just showered and was going over to collect rent from Myers.
A recording of the scream-filled and sometimes-incoherent 911 call, apparently from Ms. Tigue and Ms. White, was presented to the jury before the women testified. One of the female callers was in hysterics while the other was able to provide information.
Upshur County Sheriff's Detective David Cruz, who led the investigation, testified he interviewed Myers, who said "somebody had told him a lady had been hurt. He wanted to know who it was."
Asked by Assistant District Attorney Edward Choy whether Myers "acted like he didn't know what was going on," Cruz replied yes.
"Did he show any remorse that his sister had been killed?" Choy asked.
"I saw none," replied Cruz, who said this was the first homicide investigation of his career since becoming a lawman in 2007.
Another officer who responded to the scene, Sheriff's Deputy David Thompson, said he beat on the door of Myers' travel trailer and several deputies called for about five minutes for Myers to come out before the defendant peacefully exited.
Myers was handcuffed, put on the ground and at some point asked what was going on, Thompson testified. When told somebody had been shot, Myers wanted to know who, the officer testified.
The deputy said he had no idea of the victim's identity at the time.
Defense attorney Tim Cone grilled Cruz about the Upshur County Sheriff's Office's investigation of the shooting.
Cruz said he did not perform a hand swab of Myers to detect gunshot residue because the Texas Department of Public Safety would refuse to perform laboratory analysis on the type of testing kits the sheriff's office had then.
"Y'all didn't have the right kind of swabs?" Cone asked.
"That is correct," Cruz replied.
Cruz also said he did not believe evidence analyzed at a laboratory came back with the defendant's fingerprints.
According to testimony, the shotgun introduced into evidence was found under a tool box on the property four days after the shooting, and testing showed it fired the fatal shot.
Cruz acknowledged he did not trace the gun to Myers but said authorities looked for no other suspects because of the evidence against him. The gun and shotgun shells were found near Myers' home, and a witness had seen the defendant running with what appeared to be a long black gun, the detective testified.
He also said there was "absolutely not" any evidence that Ms. Tigue, Mrs. White or Mrs. White's husband -- who was reportedly in Louisiana at the time -- shot Mrs. Espinoza.
Dr. Tommy J. Brown, who performed the autopsy on the victim, said she died of "a shotgun wound to the head into the mouth."
He said she had two shotgun wads in her mouth that were "consistent with a .410."
Dr. Brown estimated the gun barrel was only two to three feet from Mrs. Espinoza when she was shot. He said the range could be closer than that, but not much further.
In opening arguments, Choy said the victim's blood was found on Myers' shirt. However, the state has introduced no motive for the shooting.