Photo: Marvin Pfeiffer /San Antonio Express-News
A San Antonio woman who admitted she severed the limbs of her cousin, who was beaten with baseball bats, suffocated and dismembered before his remains were burned on a barbecue pit, was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison.
Candie Dominguez was 35 when she, an ex-boyfriend and his cousin were arrested and charged in the horrific beating death of Jose Luis Menchaca, 35, Dominguez’s cousin.
In a pre-sentencing hearing Friday, Dominguez, now 39, testified that she lured her cousin to the home where he was beaten and suffocated, and that she helped dismember him before her then-boyfriend, Daniel Moreno Lopez, and his cousin, Gabriel Moreno, burned his remains, all in retaliation over a stabbing involving a botched drug deal.
She said she had no remorse. On Monday as the hearing continued before Judge Ron Rangel, defense attorney Tony Jimenez called her back to the stand to ask her again.
“At this time I do not feel remorse, I feel nothing but anger,” she told the court. “I’m sorry he lost his life, yes, but we cannot change things. I accept things for what they are, and look forward.”
When Jimenez asked her if she ever shows emotion, Dominguez replied, “No, I don’t.
“The way I grew up, the way my life was, I didn’t show emotion. I never have. With everything I have gone through, emotions are useless.”
In his closing arguments, Jimenez urged the judge to be lenient and said her lack of emotion was because of a childhood of sexual assault and years of abusive relationships as an adult.
Prosecutor Jessica Schultz said Dominguez “is at least a sociopath” because she showed no remorse, and said a just sentence would be life — a life sentence, however, wasn’t an option — and urged Rangel to go for no less than the maximum 30 years.
Three of Dominguez’s daughters testified Monday and asked Rangel for leniency for their mother, whom they admitted participated in a horrific crime, but said it stemmed from years of drug abuse. They also said a house fire in 2014 changed everything for them.
“She was like my best friend until she got into drugs,” Brenda Galvan, 19, said through tears. “I don’t understand why it had to be this way. She was an awesome person.”
Brittany Olmedo, 23, credited Dominguez with pushing her to attend college, which she said she had to quit after two years to help her family after the fire.
“I know what she did was bad, but I ask for leniency,” she told the court.
Brandie Galvan, 22, testified that she adopted her younger siblings after her father committed suicide and her mother was in jail. She asked for a fair sentence.
Dominguez was the last of three people to go to trial in a killing that made headlines for its graphic nature. Menchaca was ambushed inside Dominguez’s home in the 400 block of Hillwood Drive on the North Side. He was beaten with baseball bats, suffocated, dismembered and his remains burned on a barbecue pit in Dominguez’s backyard. His girlfriend, Sylvia Flores, 29, was held against her will for days after the killing and testified at the trials of Lopez and Moreno.
Lopez, 32, was convicted of murder in June 2018, and had to be physically removed from the courtroom when he erupted in anger at the verdict.
Under heightened security in a nearly three-day hearing in the 379th state District Court, Lopez was sentenced in November to life in prison for his role in Menchaca’s death. He will have to serve 30 years before he’s eligible for parole. If he were to be released, he would remain on supervision for the rest of his life.
Lopez’s proceedings marked the second time he was tried. In his first trial in 2017, Dominguez was testifying about her role in the killing when she divulged that she was bipolar and schizophrenic, prompting Lopez’s attorney, J. Charles Bunk, to ask Rangel to declare a mistrial.
Bunk accused prosecutors of misconduct and discovery violations, stating to the court had he known of Dominguez’s mental illness in advance, he would have approached jury selection differently in that case. Rangel declared a mistrial that first time around.
Lopez’s cousin, Moreno, also was tried twice in Menchaca’s killing. Proceedings began Feb. 23, 2018, but after four days of deliberations, Rangel declared a mistrial March 9 after jurors told him they were hopelessly deadlocked. Moreno was retried in December, and the jury found him not guilty.
In the end, Rangel sentenced Dominguez to the maximum 30 years in her plea deal, in exchange for her testimony in two of the four trials involving Lopez and Moreno.
She will have to serve at least 15 years before she’s eligible for parole.
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Elizabeth Zavala is a courts and crime reporter in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @elizabeth2863