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Juan Gonzalez is accused of beating off-duty EPPD Officer Jonathan Molina to death
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 6:14pm
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — A 19-year-old El Paso man’s capital murder trial is underway. Juan Antonio Gonzalez is accused of beating an off-duty El Paso Police Officer to death in 2012 in Central El Paso.
Jurors read the defendant’s Facebook message to his friend which said, “I hope you didn't get caught, I killed the guy he went into compulsions and died.” Much of Gonzalez’s family was present for his first day of court. The 19-year-old is accused of killing Jonathan Molina in a driveway near Trowbridge and Gateway Boulevard South on September 25, 2012. A witness claimed Molina confronted the defendant and two other teens for scratching up his car.
Gonzalez appeared alert and paid close attention Wednesday to witnesses on the stand. One of those witnesses was a man who was with Gonzalez on the day of the alleged murder. Alan Medrano told jurors he, Gonzalez, and another teen got into a verbal fight with Molina. He says the victim provoked them and that Gonzalez responded by taking Molina down, punching him twice before walking away.
Two other witnesses tell a slightly different story. Erin Lyle, witnessed the fight from her rear view mirror. She said Gonzalez took the police officer down, straddled him and punched him repeatedly.
Lyle said she pulled over to help, when she got to Molina’s side he was, “still breathing and making a snoring sound. He was trying to get up. I tried to tell him don't move, someone is coming,” she testified. That someone was police after another witness, Laura Mena, said she yelled out to the boys to “get back here!” Mena claimed one of the teens simply shook their head ‘no’ then walked away.
Lyle described the knots on Molina’s forehead after the beating, and the bleeding from his nose. El Paso Police Officer Jonathan Molina died nine days after investigators claimed Gonzalez beat him.
Molina is not facing the death penalty because the incident happened when he was a minor. He is facing the life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 30 years.