A second suspect in last year’s double slaying of an Erath County couple pleaded guilty Monday to capital murder in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Ricardo Rodriguez accepted the plea deal only three days after his accomplice, Frank Webb, reached a similar agreement with the state on Friday. Webb, however, pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of murder and will be eligible for parole in 30 years.
District Attorney John Terrill praised investigators with the Erath County Sheriff’s Department and Texas Rangers, who were able to identify and arrest the suspects within days following the murder of Carlos and Lucia Garcia. The couple was found dead inside their home on the morning of April 16, 2007. They had been tied up and shot in the head.
“The evidence in the case against Rodriguez was overwhelming,” Terrill said. “After his arrest, Rodriguez gave a full confession and identified the other killer as Frank Webb, who was arrested three days later.”
Both men have been held in the Erath County Jail since their arrest. Rodriguez was represented by attorneys Garry Lewellen and David Tucker.
During Monday’s hearing, Rodriguez swiveled in his chair and nodded his head while Judge Don Jones explained the terms of his plea deal. When the judge asked Rodriguez if he understood what was happening, Rodriguez answered repeatedly, “Yes, I do, sir.”
Moments after the plea deal was read, the victims’ daughter, Anna Serrano, read a statement to Rodriguez, telling him how the murder of her parents has affected her family’s life. She told him that the killings left her nine-year-old brother and two-year-old sister without parents.
“They won’t have any parents to see them grow up,” she said. “How could you have the heart to do this to them? We never did anything wrong to you.”
It is not known exactly what relationship Rodriguez had with the Garcias, but they are somehow related.
Terrill said there is no clear motive for the killings, but robbery did play a role. He said an investigation into the case remains ongoing and will focus on other people who might have been involved.
Terrill said Rodriguez’s brother, Graciano Sany Lopez, has also been implicated in the murders, but there is not enough evidence against him to make an arrest. He said Lopez is in illegal immigrant and will be deported.
Terrill said some of the victims’ family members wanted to see the state pursue the death penalty against Rodriguez and Webb.
“I cannot disagree with their desire and I actually personally do not oppose their position,” Terrill said. “However, I must consider the strengths and weaknesses of each case, the likelihood of conviction and of a punishment verdict in the event of a trial, the likelihood that the punishment will ever be carried out after all appeals are final, along with the expense and delay involved. In processing the Rodriguez and Webb cases, I have determined after considering all of these factors and the potential evidence, that the sentences are appropriate.”