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Gracia found not guilty in 2009 shooting death

Published On: Mar 11 2013 01:40:34 PM CDT   Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:42:29 PM CST

ABC-7's Denise Olivas reports.

EL PASO, Texas -

A 19-year old man was found not guilty Tuesday afternoon.
The capital murder trial of Juan Gracia ended with Gracia being found not guilty. Gracia faced life in prison for his alleged role in the shooting death of Jose Gonzalez-Galeana on May 15, 2009.

Gonzalez-Galeana was a member of the Juarez drug cartel.

It was Gracia's brother-in-law, Ruben Rodriguez-Dorado, also a member of the Juarez cartel who ordered the killing of Galeana.

Galeana was believed to also be an informant for the U.S. government.

The admitted shooter, Michael Apodaca, took the stand during the trial and told the jury Gracia told his brother-in-law they would kill Gonzalez-Galeana for $5,000 each.

Apodaca made a tentative plea agreement with state prosecutors to take the stand against his former best friend.

In return Apodaca would be considered for a life sentence with a chance for parole in 30 years.

Tuesday morning during closing arguments, state prosecutor Denise Butterworth said Apodaca "was brutally honest because he faces the death penalty".

Meanwhile Gracia's defense attorney Ruben Morales told jurors that Apodaca lied on the stand about Gracia's involvement and showed no remorse about killing Galaena.

Morales went on to say if he could "gun down" someone then he could easily lie in a courtroom.

Juan Gracia faces life in prison with a possibility of parole.


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