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19-year-old Juan Antonio Gonzalez faces 5 to 99 years in prison
Monday, July 28, 2014 - 9:13pm
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — Guilty of murder -- that's the verdict from the jury tonight for 19-year-old Juan Antonio Gonzalez. The now convicted murderer was facing a greater charge of capital murder which would have meant an automatic life sentence. With this verdict, however, Gonzalez is now facing anywhere from five to 99 years behind bars.
It took jurors about six hours to come to a unanimous decision. When Gonzalez found out his fate -- he was shaking, his family visibly upset. Gonzalez beat El Paso Police Officer Jonathan Molina to death. Gonzalez was 17-years-old when the incident happened in September 2012. Investigators say Officer Molina confronted Gonzalez along with two of his friends after Molina witnessed one of them scratching his car. A fight broke out and Molina died nine days after the beating.
Earlier Monday -- both teams presented their closing arguments -- the defense claimed, "Mainly it was the fall...that's what caused his death... You don't kill someone with punches,” Ruben Morales, Gonzalez’s attorney said.
While the assistant district attorney argued, "This isn't an after school fight, you don't die in an after school fight. This was a vicious beating,” Assistant District Attorney Denise Butterworth told jurors.
Now it is up to the jury to decide Gonzalez’s punishment. Court will resume Tuesday morning for the sentencing phase.