El Paso, TX (KDBC) — It's a day they didn't know they'd ever see. The family of once convicted killer - Daniel Villegas -- is getting ready to welcome him home for the first time in 20 years.
Villegas was convicted of murdering two teens in Northeast El Paso in 1993. But now a criminal court of appeals has ordered he get a new trial. And Tuesday he could be released on bond.
"But now we're going to be able to reach for him and hug him and say hello instead of goodbye," Patty Cake, Daniel Villegas’s Aunt says through tears. Daniel Villegas family prepares to welcome the once convicted killer home. "It's hard not to be hopeful but at the same time, you know, I just can't help it, you know."
Patty has been helping the family prepare for the homecoming. The Villegas family home is lined with yellow ribbon, balloons, and welcome home banners. "I'm really excited but I'm really nervous at the same time,” Yolanda Villegas, Daniel’s mother tells us.
Inside the home, Daniel's room is ready for him. Childhood photos sit upon a dresser.
Balloons tied to his freshly made bed. Daniel’s mother says the family has been waiting for his release so they can celebrate a late Christmas and birthday together. “Everything has changed because when he went in the cell phones were those big ones.”
And to rejoice his return to a world that has changed dramatically in the past 20 years.
"I think I'll be checking up on him and making sure he's still there. You know it's going to be like a culture shock for me and probably even worse for him,” Villegas explained.
The family is aware that Villegas' time as a free man may be short lived. "We're good wherever they take us so we're ready, we got it, you know what I mean. I'm not worried about 'if' he goes back to trial,” Villegas told us.
"It's not over but at least maybe now he'll be out for now and God willing, he'll be out for good,” Cake said.
And Tuesday, another first may happen, Yolanda says she hopes to release the emotions she's been hiding since her son went to prison for a double homicide many say he did not commit. "Now, are you going to allow yourself to cry? I hope so. I don't know how to do it but I hope so."
Daniel Villegas family says they plan to be at the courtroom for his bond hearing ... That is set to take place Tuesday morning.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did not declare Villegas was innocent. That means he could still face another trial in the future.