NEW BRAUNFELS — Testimony began Wednesday morning in the Comal County prosecution of Albert Rodriguez Medellin, accused of beating in July 2010 his disabled fiancee into a coma from which she never recovered.
In an opening statement, Laura Bates, Comal County assistant district attorney and co-counsel for the prosecution, told jurors that testimony will show Medellin attacked his victim with his hands or fists and that his actions led to her death.
“There is going to be no doubt this man caused the
Medellin, 42, faces a possible life sentence. He is on trial for murder; aggravated assault of a date, family or house member with a weapon; and injury to a disabled person.
Authorities accuse Medellin of beating and causing the death of Antonia Espinoza, a disabled 31-year-old New Braunfels native and mother of two — including an infant she conceived with Medellin.
Espinoza died Nov. 17, 2010 after five months in a coma. Authorities say Medellin beat her comatose with his bare hands on July 30 of that year.
Dr. Paul Richter, the emergency room physician who treated Espinoza at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital-New Braunfels, testified that she had black eyes, a bloody nose and other noticeable injuries when Medellin brought her to the hospital.
“This was an obvious case of an assault,” Richter said.
Under direct examination from Jennifer Smith, Comal County assistant district attorney, Richter told jurors that Espinoza was the victim of serious bodily injury and a person caused her injuries with hands or fists. He said the hands or fists were used as deadly weapons.
Richter said under cross examination from Tom Clark, Medellin’s defense attorney, that Espinoza suffered from severe scoliosis and that other members of the ER team were familiar with her from other visits there.
Clark tried to get the doctor to identify for jurors some cause other than Medellin beating his fiancee that could have caused her coma. Richter acknowledged that Espinoza had no injuries on her head or scalp and that something like an inability to breathe could have brought on the prolonged unconsciousness.
Clark tried to show that Espinoza died from natural causes and not at his client’s hand. Though Espinoza died, she is not the only victim, Clark said during his opening statement.
“There are two victims here in this case, I suggest to you,” Clark told jurors. “Toni’s the victim of her medical complications. Albert’s the victim of circumstance.”
The trial is expected to continue Thursday and last as long as two weeks.