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New Witnesses For Villegas Say Others Committed Murders

By Darren Hunt
Published On: Sep 06 2011 07:35:12 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 06 2011 08:11:52 AM CDT
EL PASO, Texas -

Revealing new testimony has been given in the case of Daniel Villegas, who has spent the past 16 years in prison for the murder of two teenagers in Northeast El Paso.

On Tuesday, new witnesses came forward saying Villegas is not the killer and new evidence would have made a difference in his 1994 capital murder trial, which ended with him being sentenced to life in prison.

"I didn't sleep much last night, and it's been hard," Villegas' mother, Yolanda Villegas, said outside the courtroom. "I broke out in tears, and I haven't done that in a long time. I'm just hoping for the best and hoping that finally someone will listen and help me get my son out of prison."

A new witness, an unidentified former gang member, told the court under questioning by defense attorney Joe Spencer, "I was telling my girlfriend he didn't do it. And I know who did it."

Spencer then asked the witness, "How is it that you know who murdered Armando Lazo and Robert England?"

The witness replied, "I heard them talk about it."

Spencer then said, "The actual shooters?"

The witness replied, "Yes!"

Spencer followed up with, "OK, who was responsible?"

After an overruled objection by Assistant District Attorney John Briggs, the witness said a man by the name of Javier "Dirt" Flores was the shooter.

Another witness, Connie Serrano, testified that Flores' brother, Rudy "Dust" Flores, was involved in the killings, and not Villegas.

Spencer asked Serrano if Rudy Flores showed up to the funeral for Lazo and caused the chaos.

"Yes," Serrano said, "because everybody knew that Rudy killed him."

Spencer said afterward, "That info was out there and available and wasn't investigated by the police department."

Defense co-council Luis Gutierrez added, "We actually, I think, are bringing to light some of the things that were overlooked in the previous trial of Daniel Villegas."

The hope of Villegas' attorneys is that Judge Sam Medrano recommends a new trial based on all of this new evidence.

"We know the real audience is in Austin, Texas -- the Court of Criminal Appeals," Gutierrez said, "and we're hoping they see there is a community that's behind Daniel."

Javier "Dirt" Flores is deceased, according to defense attorneys, and his brother, Rudy "Dust" Flores, is currently locked up on drug charges.

Another big moment for the defense Tuesday was the admission of a signed affadavit from Villegas' attorney during the initial trial, John Gates, claiming he was ineffective because he didn't know much of this evidence and had only two months to prepare.

Briggs said after Tuesday's testimony that he's heard nothing yet that he thinks should lead to a new trial. Next up on the stand is Detective Al Marquez, who got Villegas to confess to the crimes as a teenager. Villegas is also expected to testify Tuesday.

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