By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"It's such a different feeling, holding a body like that. And it was her baby. He was her best friend. Every afternoon they would meet at Starbucks, they'd go have dinner three or four times a week."
Some 2,000 people turned out for the January 31 funeral at a downtown Dallas cathedral, clogging Central Expressway to the point that police had to shut down portions of the freeway to accommodate them. Hundreds stood outside the brick walls and stained glass windows of the century-old gothic-style cathedral. Television crews and reporters gathered outside the church. It was as if a local dignitary had died.
The Reverend Ramon Alvarez gave a eulogy alternating between English and Spanish. "As Oscar looks down from heaven toward us, he smiles," the priest said. "Now, he challenges us to go on with life." As mariachi music filled the cathedral, Oscar's sobbing widow followed the walnut casket out the door. Relatives consoled each other on the steps of the church while Oscar's uncle, Juan Sanchez, stood before the news cameras and read a written statement: "Oscar was a truly good person in every sense of the word who loved his wife Theresa deeply and was thankful to God for his daughter Helena. These people who committed this senseless, cruel and cowardly crime have taken away a husband, a father, a son and a leader in our community. Our family is strong and deeply united, and we will get through this, but we will never, ever forget."
It took nine months for police to track down Acevedo. On October 14—which would have been Oscar's 31st birthday—he was finally arrested in Cabo San Lucas. The Sanchez family got the news while they were gathered at Laura's for a birthday mass and celebration to honor Oscar. Laura didn't overlook the date of Acevedo's capture. "I took it as a sign of God and my son," she would say later.
Acevedo was extradited back to Dallas, and as he was escorted to jail, he seemed quite a different man from his accused accomplice. Instead of walking meekly as Felix had months before, attempting to make himself small and disappear, Acevedo walked tall and proud. He puffed up his chest and wore a smirk as he walked by the television crews. He was finally in the spotlight, where he'd always believed he belonged.
When Felix's trial began in late August, dozens of Oscar's friends and family members sat on the right side of the courtroom. Prosecutor Fred Burns warned them that graphic photographs of Oscar's beaten body would be shown to the court, and they steeled themselves. As the state presented its evidence—Felix's bloody palm print on a statuette found in the bedroom, testimony showing that Oscar had been kidnapped using Felix's car and held in his home, the voice alterer found in Felix's pocket—the defendant sat silently, listening to the Spanish translation of the proceedings through headphones. At 30, he looked as if he'd aged a decade since his arrest. His thinning hair was gray, and he was so skinny his shoulder blades were visible through the back of his suit. While prosecutors described him as an intelligent and calculating killer, Read's defense team argued that he had been intimidated by Acevedo and framed with the crime. The most dramatic day of testimony came when the defense called Dale "Tiger" Jameton.
A high-ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a notorious prison gang, Jameton said he had confessed to two capital murders. A tall, pale 29-year-old with a shaved head, Jameton walked into the courtroom wearing an orange and white prison jumpsuit. As he sat at the stand, the tattoos on his chest, arms and neck—the state of Texas covers his Adam's apple—were visible underneath his shirt.
"How'd you meet Richie?" Read asked him.
Jameton said that one day he was talking with other Dallas County jail inmates on a closed circuit intercom system, when a man who turned out to be Acevedo broke into the conversation. "What we happened to be talking about was how easy it is to manipulate homosexuals out of their money," Jameton said. "This particular guy, out of the blue, jumped into the conversation in a friendly manner and said he was hip to the games." Acevedo introduced himself as Edgar and told Jameton he knew of his "associates," and of the various deals they did—extortion, murder for hire, drugs, prostitution. "Edgar tells me the only thing standing in between his freedom is another individual," Jameton said. "He was soliciting me for murder for hire." Acevedo, he said, wanted Felix killed. In order to protect himself and his associates, Jameton told Acevedo to tell him exactly what happened on the day of the crime. "I need to know everything," Jameton said he told him. "I don't care if you killed the dude, but I need to know."
According to Jameton, Acevedo told him in accented English how he had a romantic relationship with Oscar Sanchez, his boss, and that at the same time, he'd begun a relationship with one of Oscar's uncles. One day, the uncle caught him "making out" with Oscar in the restaurant office and became upset. "This is where Edgar's little game kicked in, so he put it," Jameton said. The plan, Acevedo told him, was for him to convince the relative to help him kidnap Oscar and get the restaurant's money so they could run away together. Jameton then described a blow-by-blow of the crime as it was supposedly told to him: Before leaving the house, Acevedo struck Felix on the back of the head, blindfolded him and put him in another room. Then, with help from the Sanchez relative, Acevedo staged a car accident, kidnapped Oscar at gunpoint and brought him home. In the bedroom, Oscar tried to wrest a pistol from Acevedo, and after a struggle, Acevedo hit him on the head with the gun and shot him.