Day two of testimony in the capital murder trial of Gabriel Armandariz has come to an end Wednesday. Testimony started with calling Armandariz's brother-in-law, Al Dean, to the stand.
Dean was married to Armandariz's sister, Geneva. It was their home in Graham where Armandariz would stay a majority of nights, according to testimony from Dean.
He also told the jury he would watch Gatlin and Luke five days a week, while Amandariz was at work. On the day following the murder of the two boys Dean testified that Amandariz was at their home. Geneva Dean would later testify that Amandariz and the two boys stayed the night April 12, 2011.
Dean told the jury the next day, April 13, 2011, was just like any other. He started watching the two boys until he called Armandariz to come pick them up. That was the last time Dean says he saw the boys.
Geneva Dean took the stand shortly after saying she received a call from Lauren Smith, the boys' mother, asking her where the boys and Armandariz were. Smith sent Dean the photo of Luke hanging by his neck, and that's when Dean says she called the police department.
Juan Jimenez was the next to take the stand. Jimenez was also Armandariz's brother-in-law and lived just down the street from the Dean Residence. He was also the last person to see Armandariz before he was arrested for capital murder.
Jimenez told the jury Armandariz contacted him that day asking for him to pick him up and take him to his house. Jimenez said Armandariz told him the kids were at the babysitters for the day.
But shortly after, Jimenez received a phone call from his wife Marcella asking where Armandariz was and where his kids were. Shortly after the phone call, his wife texted him the same photo Armandariz had sent to Smith, a photo of Luke hanging from his neck.
Jimenez told the jury after receiving the text message he went to talk to Armandariz about what he saw, but Armandariz was gone. Jimenez told the jury that was the last time he saw Armandariz.
The prosecution then called Nina Richie to the stand. Back in April of 2011, Richie was employed at the Graham Police Department as a dispatcher. It was then that the courtroom silenced as an audio recording was presented to the jury. The recording was a phone call placed to 911 by Gabriel Armandariz on the day his two sons were murdered.
“My girlfriend asked me to kill my babies, what was I supposed to do?” Said a voice in the recording identified as Armandariz's. “I hate her so much, look what she made me do,” the voice told Richie.
Richie told jurors that she continued to speak with Armandariz asking for his name, and his location. Armandariz did not answer the questions, but ended the call shortly after.
Richie said that although Armandariz did not give his information she was able to track the cell phone he used, and gathered GPS coordinates.
Those coordinates were handed off to the Young County Game Warden who was called to the witness stand next.
Brent Isom testified to the jury that after those coordinates were given to him he went on patrol. He said those coordinates took him to an area a mile or two outside of Graham. As he was driving he noticed a baseball hat in the road, sparking his curiosity.
He told the jury he made a U-turn on Highway 67 near Highway 209. That's when he spotted Armandariz. He said he placed Armandariz in handcuffs and called in a Graham Police Department Officer.
Isom also told the jury Armandariz did not resist arrest, or run, and he complied fully. Amandariz looked like a “deer in the headlights,” said Isom on the witness stand.
The next and final witness to take the stand for the day was Lieutenant Jim Reeves, the lead investigator at the Graham Police Department. He spoke with the jury about the discovery of the two boys' bodies.
He said Graham PD officers, along with multiple other law enforcement agencies were dispatched to the Dean home. It was then that those agencies were directed to the home across the street, the home of Armandariz's brother.
On the stand Geneva Dean said she and Armandariz's brother owned the home. That their brother allowed Armandariz to stay at the home with his two kids.
Reeves said the home across the street was empty on arrival. And that's when the search for the missing boys began.
Reeves said with assistance from Texas Ranger Corey Lane, a crawl space at the bottom of the home was discovered. Ranger Lane found the space and noticed the bodies wrapped in a tarp.
The tarp was pulled out of the crawl space and it was discovered that bodies were inside. Reeves said they identified the boys by the shoes they were wearing. They didn't look at the bodies any further, he said.
A very emotional scene broke out in the courtroom as the prosecutor displayed the tarp with the boys inside for the jury. Various jury members were seen wiping their eyes as they looked at the evidence. Armandariz did not look at the evidence screen. That was unlike his actions for the rest of the evidence. Earlier in the trial, he could be seen looking at the evidence along with the jury, but as those images popped up, he never turned his head to look.
The bodies were sent to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office in Fort Worth. There they confirmed that the bodies were those of Gatlin and Luke Armandariz. The murder weapon was also discovered. Reeves testified that the medical examiners said the ligature used in the picture to hang Luke was found wrapped around Gatlin's neck.
The affidavit said the cause of death was hanging for Luke, and strangulation for Gatlin.
The prosecution introduced evidence regarding items that could be linked to the murder weapon. Lieutenant Reeves said a green and white bag was found inside the home the boys' bodies were found beneath. The bag was missing one strap from the handle, the other strap was still attached.
Reeves said that green strap from the bag matched the ligature in the photo of Luke hanging. The investigators also found a green fiber on the clothing rod in one of the closets in the home. He told the jury that closet looked to be the one in the photo.
Wednesday ended with Reeves testimony for the prosecution. He will be the first witness to take the stand Thursday morning.