Miguel Angel Paredes, 32, was executed by lethal injection on 28 October 2014 in Huntsville, Texas for the gang and drug-related murder of three people.
John Anthony Saenz ("Anthony") and his brother, Eric, were members of a Texas prison gang called the Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos (Brotherhood of Latino Gunmen), or HPL. According to prosecutors, Anthony was the leader of the gang in San Antonio. Adrian Torres was a member of a rival gang, the Mexican Mafia, or "Eme." Torres and Anthony's wife, Priscilla, were childhood friends, so Anthony and Torres were friendly with each other, despite being in rival gangs.
On 14 September 2000, Torres "fronted" Anthony Saenz two ounces of cocaine to sell for him, letting Anthony keep a share of the profit. The next day, Priscilla caught her husband using the cocaine instead of selling it. Torres then came over to Anthony and Priscilla's home, looking for his drugs. Priscilla told Torres that Anthony was using the drugs. Hearing this, Torres became angry.
On Saturday, 16 September, Anthony and Priscilla left their children with Priscilla's mother and checked into a motel, to avoid Torres. They used some more of Torres' cocaine while Torres came to their home. Anthony's niece, Jackie, answered the door, with her boyfriend, Omar, standing next to her. Jackie told Torres he did not know where Anthony was. Torres told Jackie that her uncle owed him "some stuff." He also said, "Look, Jackie, you know I'm Eme, you know Anthony's Pistolero. If that's the way he's going to handle it, I'm going to come tomorrow." When Jackie repeated to Anthony what Torres said to her, Anthony became mad. According to a written statement he gave later, "when she told me about it ... I wanted to kill [Torres] right then."
Anthony, 28, went home Sunday morning to prepare for Torres. As he was expecting trouble and for Torres to have people with him, he called his brother, Eric, and asked him to come over. Eric either told Anthony he could not come over, or told him he would, but then did not show, so Anthony called two other gang members, Miguel "Fatboy" Paredes, then 18, and Greg "Mac 11" Alvarado, 21. Paredes and Alvarado arrived with two shotguns and a handgun. Paredes waited in the garage for Torres to arrive, while Alvarado waited in the master bedroom. Jackie and Omar were in another bedroom. Anthony instructed them to stay in their room if they heard arguing.
Torres, 27, arrived at Anthony's house at about 1:00 p.m. His friend, Shawn Cain, 32, was driving the car. Torres' girlfriend, Nelly Bravo, 23, was in the back seat. Anthony let Torres into the house while the other two waited in the car. Anthony told Torres that he did not have all of the drugs, but his brother would be coming over with the money. He told Torres that he should invite his friends inside while they waited for Eric. Nelly and Shawn then came inside and sat on sofas in the living room. Torres told Saenz he was not leaving until he got all of his money or drugs and he better not think about "burning" him because he was Mexican Mafia.
According to Anthony, he tried to call Eric again, but could not reach him. Torres then told him to give him whatever he had. Anthony handed Torres a tied plastic bag with the cocaine in it. Torres usually bit open the bag, but this time, he grabbed a knife to open it. Anthony stated that Torres then looked at Nelly Bravo and gave her some type of signal. On the pretext of getting a syringe for Torres, Anthony quickly excused himself to go to the garage, where Paredes was hiding. He grabbed a shotgun, came back to the kitchen, where Torres was sitting at the kitchen table, and shot him in the neck. Paredes and Alvarado then emerged from their positions and killed Bravo and Cain.
Jackie Saenz, who was in one of the bedrooms, stated that she heard gunshots, then heard a woman say, "No, Anthony, No," and then heard more gunshots.
Eric Saenz testified at Paredes' trial that he and Anthony were members of the HPL gang and that he knew Anthony owed money to Adrian Torres and was having problems with him. On the morning of the killings, Anthony telephoned him to say that Torres was coming over to his house. He asked Eric to come over and bring a weapon, because he was expecting trouble. Eric answered that he could not come over because there was no one else to take care of his children. Anthony then said that he would ask some other friends to come over, including Paredes. Anthony called Eric later and told him that Paredes and Alvarado were with him and that they had guns.
After 1:00 p.m., Anthony called Eric a third time. He said "they had taken care of what was going to happen" and that he wanted him to come over and help dispose of the bodies." Eric asked Anthony why he needed more people to help him than were already there, and he did not go. Later that night, Anthony, Paredes, and Thomas Ayala arrived at his house. They all got out of a van and Anthony began telling him what happened.
Eric testified that Anthony told him when he went in the garage, he grabbed a gun and told Paredes "something's going to go down." He shot Torres in the neck in the kitchen while he was using some cocaine. Alvarado then shot Shawn Cain in the living room while Parades walked over to Nelly Bravo. Bravo, on her knees, pleaded for her life, promising that she would not say anything. Paredes shot her with a handgun aimed at her head, but the shot was not fatal. Bravo continued pleading for her life. Anthony then told Paredes to finish her off, and he did, with a shotgun blast to her chest. Paredes and Alvarado then began beating Torres' body. Anthony went over to Torres, took the drugs, and said, "That's what you get for [expletive] threatening me." Anthony also told Eric about how they had cleaned up and disposed of the bodies. They took the bodies to a rural area in nearby Frio County, dumped them, and set them on fire. Anthony said that they were going to start "going hard with the Mexican Mafia" and that they "were going to start taking them out." Eric testified that while Anthony was speaking, Parades added that Eric "should have been there" because he "would have had some fun."
Thomas Ayala testified that on the evening of the murders, Anthony phoned and asked him to come over to his house "as a favor." Ayala stated that he knew Anthony as a friend, but was not a member of the gang. When he arrived at the house, he saw Anthony, Paredes, and Alvarado standing in the garage. Anthony told him they "had to take care of some business" and showed him some rugs rolled up in the back of a pickup truck parked in the garage. Ayala realized there were bodies inside the rugs.
After thoroughly cleaning the house and installing new paint, carpet, and tile, the group left to dispose of the bodies. Anthony rode in Ayala's van, giving directions to him about where to go. Another gang member, Julio Gonzalez, drove the pickup truck containing the bodies, following the van. Paredes and one or two other men followed the pickup in a third vehicle. About two hours from town, according to Ayala, they stopped on a dirt road. Ayala said he never got out of his van, but he saw the bodies being removed from the pickup, then flames. They then returned to San Antonio and washed out the vehicles. Anthony and Paredes then got in Ayala's van and they drove to Eric's house.
Ayala testified that along the way, Anthony described the murders to him. He said that he shot a man in the neck, that Parades shot the woman and a second man, and that Alvarado shot and stabbed the second man. According to Ayala, Paredes did not contradict anything Anthony said.
A farmer investigating a grass fire found the burned remains of the victims. Investigators discovered a piece of paper with Anthony Saenz's name inside one of the carpet rolls.
At age 18, Paredes had no prior felony convictions as an adult, but according to the Texas Attorney General's office, the jury heard testimony during his punishment hearing that he had previously executed another gang member, ordered another killing, had been involved in two shootings where four people were wounded, and had arrests for aggravated kidnapping and driving while intoxicated. He also had a misdemeanor conviction for evading detention. He joined the HPL while in a juvenile detention facility and was described as Anthony Saenz's right-hand man.
Defense attorneys, appealing to the jury to not pass a death sentence, said that Paredes grew up in a tough neighborhood where the only way to survive was to join a gang. Prosecutors countered by pointing out that Parades was the youngest of 20 siblings who grew up together, and he was the only one who turned to crime.
Continued on Page 2