To read more about Tony's story, please visit his website at www.tony-medina.info .
Here are a few points from Tony's website:
• Was Tony Medina really the perpetrator?
• Many facts suggest he was not the murderer.
• There are many indications that the investigations and his actual trial proceedings were handled negligently and improperly by the defense.
• The palm prints found with the murder
weapon that can be presumed to be those of the murderer were not
• Witness statements confirm that Tony Medina was not at the scene during the crime. Rather he was at a party with friends miles away.
• Many other important witnesses were never called before the court because the District Attorney withheld crucial evidence from the defense.
• The judge who presided over the Trial proceedings was not, at the time, sworn in as a judge. Further more, one of the jury members had previous criminal convictions, which by law should have barred her from jury selection.
On November 21, 2001 Tony's appeal attorney file his writ of habeas corpus in the State district court. As yet, Tony Medina has not received a ruling on his writ, or motions requesting a hearing where he can present all of the new evidence before the court.
On New Year`s Ever 1995, as people all across Houston celebrated the coming of a new year, a tragic crime was being committed.
At approximately 2:30 in the morning a man in the front pasanger seat of a DARK-colored 4-door car fired 8 shots from a AK-47 semiautomatic rifle into a crowd of young people outside a house in SouthWest Houston. Two people, 9-year old David Rodriguez and his 15year old sister Diana Rodriquez were both fatally shot, while a third young lady was seriously wounded.
Police investigators who arrived on the scene found 8 fired cartridges scattered on the street, with bullet-strike marks on the front door and wall, and holes in 2 cars parked at the residence.
Although there was a street light nearby, no one at the crime scene could identify the perpetrator.
The owner of the house, who was the uncle of the two Rodriquez children, told the police that his house had been the target of previous crimes by the LRZ-13 gang because his daughter was dating a possible gang member from a rival gang.
On January 5th. 1996 Tony (Anthony) Medina was arrested. Tony Medina was first arrested for allegedly running a stop sign, then later charged with a un-related probation violation. On January 12, 1996, after other gang members gave statements pointing to Mr. Medina, he was charged with Capital Murder in this crime.
The murder weapon…
On March 7, 1996, acting on a tip, the police searched property next-door to a female gang member of the LRZ-13 gang. They discovered 2 semi-auto matic rifles wrapped in plastic bags buried in the field. Finger-print testing identified the only print as a palm print belonging to Dominic Holmes, a LRZ-13 gang member.
begins – July 24, 1996
Found Guilty – July 29, 1996
Sentenced to death – August 1, 1996
Arrived on death row – September 13, 1996
Jury Selection for Tony (Anthony) Medina`s trial began on July 15, 1996. Nine days later, despite the fact that defense attorneys were unprepared and had not conducted even a basic investigation into their clients case, the trial began. It was July 24, 1996.
The state`s case against Tony (Anthony) Medina centered on the testimony of 3 individuals, known gangs members, who admitted being present in the car when the crime was committed. The eyewitness accounts from these alleged witnesses: Dominic Holmes, Johnny Valdez, and James Moore, were completely different. All 3 men gave different accounts of the crime, who was where in the car, and even when it happened. The only thing all 3 men agreed on was that Tony Medina was the shooter. Between the 3 men, they gave 11 different statements to police and prosecutors. Mr. Moore, the driver and owner of the car used in the crime, says that as he was following directions thru a un-familiar neighbourhood, Mr. Medina suddenly pulled a semi-automatic rifle he did not know was in his car out and opened fire. Mr. Valdez testified that before they reached the crime scene, Mr. Moore stopped the car so Mr. Medina could change seats with his cousin who had been in the front, and retrieve the rifle from the trunk.
Mr. Leon guy, another witness who was crucial to the D.A.`s case, testified that he was in the drive-way next door to the crime scene when the shooting occurred. In his statement that night to police, Mr. Guy said he saw a dark-colored 4-door car with a “white or Mexican” hand holding a gun shooting. During trial, Mr. Guy changed his statement, and said that he infact saw a LIGHT-GRAY 2-DOOR car involved in the crime. Though he continued to claim he saw a white or Mexican hand, he was Sure that the gun he saw fired was NOT a AK-47. Under questioning by defense lawyers, he admitted that he was “dead drunk” on New Year`s eve and that his memory was better 6 months after the crime then it was that night.
Regina Juarez, a close friend of Dominic Holmes, alledges that Tony Medina returned to the party she was at after the shooting and admitted to her he was responsible for the shooting.
The State`s firearm`s expert, Robert Baldwin, played a video and testified about the effects of the murder weapon. His video showed the jury the damage this weapon would do to phone books and he confirmed that the spent shell-casings found by police at the crime scene came from the semi-auto matic rifle discovered buried and wrapped in plastic. Mr. Guerinot, Tony Medina`s defense attorney, attempted to prove thru questioning of the state`s expert that the crime COULD NOT have been committed as Valdez, Holmes and Moore testified it did. Mr. Baldwin said that he could not make a definite statement without further testing. Though Mr. Guerinot requested the judge order the testing to be done in order to prove this, the judge refused.
The DEFENSE put on 2 witnesses, Domingo Valle and Rene Reyna that testified Dominic Holmes bragged to them and a third friend that he had committed the crime. Alex Perez, Tony`s cousin, told the jury that he was with Tony Medina at their friends party, and that him and Tony never left the part with Holmes and Moore that night.
Tony Medina was the Last person to testify.
He spoke for several hours, telling the jury what happened at the party that nig..
A habeas corpus appeal to the State Court in Houston was submitted on 21st November 2001 by Tony's appeal attorney. Until now, Tony Medina has received no reply concerning new proceedings and whether all the evidence will be heard next time. In fact, no one knows the current status of his appeal.
On November 21, 2001 following hundereds of hours investigation and preparation by attorneys, investigators, mitigation experts and law students Tony Medina`s appeal lawyers filed his writ of habeas corpus to the 228th. State District Court in Houston Texas. Now, almost six years later, Tony`s appeal has not been ruled on and his motions requesting discovery of evidence as well as a evidentiary hearing to put before the court all the new evidence presented by his attorneys has gone unanswered. The status of his appeal remains unknown.
Tony`s trial was plaqued by numerous counts of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance by a incompetent defense.
In a clear case of PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT the state knowingly withheld material evidence in violation of the “Brady” law requiring them to provide the defense with all favorable and material evidence.
Leon Guy and Maurice Arqueta were both convicted felons with lengthy criminal records. The criminal history of these two witnesses was suppressed by the state. Instead both of these men were presented to the jury as peaceful, concerned citizens who only came forward to testify out of civic obligation. The jury would have viewed these men`s testimony very different had they known:
- Both of these men were either on parole or probation at the
time they testified.
- Maurice Arquesta has a drug charge dropped after he gave a statement against Tony Medina.
- Mr. Argueta was charged with sexual assult the same morning he testified for the state as a character witness.
Dominic Holmes, a LRZ – 13 gang member, was a major witness for the state, yet several FACTS were never presented to the jury for consideration or given to the defense, these included:
- On January 10, 1996 Houston Police interviewed a leader of the
LRZ gang who identified Dominic Holmes as the shooter in this crime and who told
them Holmes conspired with other gang members to blame Tony Medina.
- On January 10, 1996 the Houston Police sent a memo to it`s officers stating that Dominic Holmes was the suspected shooter in this drive by shooting and was to be considered armed & dangerous.
- When charged police noted Mr. Holmes had eleven prior arrests in the previous 2 years.
- When police attempted to pull him over, Mr. Holmes led them on a high – speed chase in a stolen vehicle that had just been used in armed robbery.
- Dominic Holmes was charged with capital murder in this case on January 10, 1996, 2 DAYS BEFORE Tony Medina, but had his charges dropped when he implicated Tony.
Johnny Valdez was another LRZ – 13 gang member and best friend of Dominic Holmes who admitted being in the car when the crime was committed. What was suppressed was the fact that Johnny Valdez was charged with capital murder on January 11, 1996, 1 DAY BEFORE Tony Medina, and had his charges dropped after he implicated Tony Medina, just like his best friend and gang mentor, Holmes.
While investigating the murder scene police were given evidence that clearly suggested someone other then Tony Medina was responsible for this crime. The owner of the house where the drive by happened at told investigating detectives that in July 1995 his house was the target of a drive by shooting and that following that crime, his daughter who was dating a possible gang member, informed him she heard that a LRZ – 13 member who had JUST GOT OUT OF JAIL was going to kill one of her family members. KNOWING that Tony Medina was incarcerated from September 14, 1994 until August 16, 1995, the state withheld this evidence, not wanting the jury members to know that while Tony was incarcerated a member of the LRZ – 13 gang had made a previous attempt to kill someone at this house during a drive by shooting.
NONE OF THIS EVIDENCE WAS EVER HEARD BY THE JURY, had the state not suppressed this evidence the jury would have seen a much different case then was shown to them.
Gerry Guerinot and Jack Millin, the 2 attorneys appointed by the court on January 16, 1996 to represent Tony Medina completely disregarded their duty as attorneys. So negligent were they, their representation can only be called INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE of COUNSEL.
Some of Tony Medina`s trial counsel`s ineffectiveness can be blamed on their over-whelming case loads.
Lead attorney Gerry Guerinot tried THREE other capital murder cases from jury selection to verdict while preparing for Tony`s trial. ALL 3 of these cases ended with a death sentence. Besides the many death penalty cases he was attempting to juggle, Mr. Guerinot also handled other felony cases appointed by the court and did work as a city attorney for Humble Texas.
Jack Millin, the second chair attorney, was suppose to be responsible for the mitigation part of the trial, yet like Mr. Guerinot he was burdened by a impossibly heavy work load. Mr. Millin handled TWO other capital cases that ended with death sentences along with his regular criminal cases while preparing for Tony`s trial. Besides his work commitments, Mr. Millin was suffering from cancer and was forced to miss some of the trial proceedings for Chemotherapy treatments.
ALL of the defense lawyer`s ineffectiveness can not be placed solely on their over-whelming caseloads. Experts agree it takes a minimum of 600 hours for a defense to properly prepare for a capital trial. It is impossible to say Tony`s lawyers were able to devote even a minimum of the time needed to be ready to defend their client`s life. Appointed January 16, 1996 they first met with their investigator on April 15th,. Only THREE months before trial began. Despite the fact that capital murder cases require HUNDEREDS of hours to investigate, only 30 hours were performed in Tony`s case.
Because of this lack of preparation and investigation on Tony`s defense`s behalf, several key pieces of evidence and witnesses that could have easily been discovered were never presented to the jury. Had the defense conducted a proper investigation the jury could have heard testimony that completely rebutted the states case. The following witnesses were interviewed by Tony`s appeal lawyers and provided sworn statements.
A leader of the LRZ – 13 gang, Mr. Nacoste was picked up from school and questioned by homicide detectives. He told the police that he was at the New Year`s Eve party being held at the home of another gang member with Tony Medina and several other friends. While there Dominic Holmes arrived with James Moore and told Mr. Nacoste he had just seen a HTC gang member in front of the house the crime happened at. Because Nacoste was a leader, Dominic Holmes needed his permission to do anything. Mr. Nacote told police that after getting permission to use the “AK” Holmes left with James Moore to do the drive by shooting.
Dallas Nacoste informed police that Holmes put out the plan to blame Tony Medina for the shooting. During trial the state attempted to convince the jury that on March 7th., when Tony spoke to Regina Juarez, he tried to enlist her in a scheme to blame Holmes and wanted her to tell Mr. Nacoste what to say. Had the trial attorneys for Tony conducted a investigation and spoke to Mr. Nacote, whose name they has in their records, his testimony would have disproved the state`s theory, since he had given his statement to the police naming Dominic Holmes as the person responsible for the shooting on January 10th., long before March 7, 1996.
At home on New Year`s Eve, Mr. McNickles lived in the neighbohood where the shooting occurred. Mr.McNickles was in his garage talking to his friend Chastity on the phone when he saw two black males driving a dark colored car past his house. One man wearing glasses was driving while another man leaned out the passenger window shooting a rifle in the air. Chasity Hamilton, at the other end of the phone, heard the gunfire. When she asked McNickles what had happened he told her two “niggers” in a car were shooting a rifle in the air. Had the defense or investigators questioned people in the neighbourhood where the crime happened, they could have talked to Mr.McNickles. His statement rebuts state witness Leon Guy who claims to have seen a “white or Mexican” hand holding the murder weapon during the shooting.
A associate of Dominic Holmes, Mr.Crawford went to highschool with Holmes. He recalled that Holmes often spoke about seeking revenge for the death of one of his friends, and in December said he planned to “do something” to a HTC gang member. In January he was with James Moore when Holmes arrived with a long rifle wrapped in a towel.
A feelow LRZ – 13 gang member, Mr.Villanueva had a phone conversation with Regina Juarez in early January 1996. While talking Ms. Juarez told him that some “guys in LRZ” had done a drive by shooting and that Holmes had killed in HTC gang member`s girlfriend and her little brother. Juarez also told Mr. Villanueva that Dominic Holmes wanted her to help him blame the shooting on Tony Medina. Mr. Villanueva spoke with Holmes the same day, and recalled Holmes was bragging about the crime, stating “that shit was cool”.
Another leader in the LKZ – 13 gang, Mr. Becerra was out of town on New Year`s Eve. Mr. Becerra was dating Regina Juarez at the time. When he returned home the day after the shooting he learned from Juarez that Dominic Holmes and James Moore had done a drive by on New Year`s Eve. Becerra remembers Holmes expressed interest in “earnig his stripes” and wanted to get his cousin james Moore into LRZ. While Tony Medina was incarcerated in 1995, Mr. Becerra says that Holmes wanted to take control of the branch of the gang Tony was in charge of before he announced he was leaving. Had Mr.Becerra been called to testify by the defense, his testimony would have shown that Dominic Holmes had a personal motive to blame Tony for the drive by shooting.
Left in charge of the PUNISHMENT PHASE of the trail, Jack Millin did nothing to prepare a defense arguing to spare Tony`s life. He did not investigate Tony`s background or interview witnesses. All 7 witnesses that testified for the defense were contacted by Tony`s family that day and were put on the stand without any preparation at all. Unable to present any meaningful defense because of his total lack of preparation, the defense only needed 65 minutes to present it`s case.
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