SEGUIN — Jurors set punishment Thursday at a 60-year term in state prison for a 43-year-old New Braunfels man convicted of delivery of cocaine and sentenced as a repeat offender.
Hernan Cortez III was found guilty on Wednesday by a jury of seven men and five women that heard testimony from law enforcement officers about the defendant’s role in a drug transaction that took place March 19, 2009 at a car wash in Marion.
Cortez was identified as the driver of a car from which one of the passengers sold a half-ounce of cocaine to an undercover officer working for the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Department.
Cortez claimed that he gave the seller, Oscar Garza, a ride from New Braunfels to Marion and hadn’t known that the purpose of Garza’s trip was to sell cocaine.
Jurors needed less than 25 minutes of deliberations to reach their guilty verdict Wednesday afternoon, and Visiting District Judge Brenda Chapman told them to return Thursday morning for the punishment phase of the trial.
The punishment phase began with Assistant District Attorney David Willborn reading the enhancement paragraphs of the indictment alleging that Cortez had previously been convicted of two felonies and was a habitual offender.
Cortez pleaded true to the enhancements, and this resulted in punishment to be considered by the jury ranging from 25 to 99 years or life in prison.
Cortez said he is employed as a maintenance man at a group of three motels in New Braunfels and has resided in the city for four years.