Man found guilty in shooting death of 13-year-old boy
04/03/2012 1:36 PM
04/03/2012 1:36 PM
It took only an hour Friday for a jury to convict Alejandro Betancourt of first-degree murder in last summer's killing of a 13-year-old boy.
Seven men and five women found Betancourt, 27, helped his younger brother and another teenager in the June 20 shooting death of Miguel Angel Andrade Martinez.
Miguel was shot 10 times when he went to answer a knock on the front door of his house at 6 a.m. that Sunday.
Betancourt faces life in prison when he returns May 13 for sentencing before Sedgwick County District Judge Ben Burgess.
Prosecutor Trinity Muth told jurors in his closing arguments the case came down to three words:
"We did it."
That's what Betancourt's sister-in-law told police that Alejandro Betancourt said when he called her moments after the shooting.
Martha Iniguez had told police she chided Alejandro Betancourt to avenge her husband, and his next youngest brother, Daniel, who had been beaten up a few weeks earlier.
Iniguez said she recognized a car driven by a man in that fight at the house where Miguel lived on North Jackson. But that man didn't live there, and neither he nor the car was at the house when neighbors saw two men open fire at dawn. Police say no one at Miguel's house was involved in the fight where Daniel Betancourt was beaten.
There were three other words.
"Listen for it."
That's what Greg Patton said Alejandro Betancourt told him after 19-year-old Eli Betancourt and 16-year-old Eddie Laurel walked toward Miguel's house armed with handguns that morning.
Patton, then 19, testified he and Alejandro Betancourt waited in a Jeep Cherokee. After hearing the shots, Alejandro Betancourt drove the get-away car.
Public defender Steve Osburn said there was no plan to kill anyone. The teenagers went to door to talk to someone, then panicked, Osburn argued in his closing arguments.
"Eddie just started firing a gun that Alejandro didn't know he had," Osburn said.
Eli Betancourt began shooting, prompted by Laurel's firing, Osburn said.
"And then the whole thing became a horrible tragedy," Osburn said.
"There's no panic," Muth argued. "What? Miguel is not supposed to answer his own front door? They went to his house. They didn't even let him get out the door before they started firing on him."
Daniel Betancourt had been in a fight May 29 at an apartment near 21st and Waco. He went to the hospital and also pleaded guilty to aggravated battery.
Iniguez told a Wichita police officer who had picked her up off the street last fall that she had pushed Alejandro Betancourt to take vengeance for Daniel.
Officer Heather Clark had arrested Alejandro Betancourt, his brother Eli and Patton within minutes after the shooting at the house near 24th and Jackson.
In September, Clark found Iniguez sleeping sitting up in a window sill of a closed business on North Broadway.
Iniguez began talking about feeling guilty about Miguel's death, the officer remembered.
According to Clark, Iniguez said Alejandro, or "Alex," was in charge of the shooting.
"Eli did whatever Alex tells him to," Clark recalled Iniguez saying
On the witness stand, Iniguez denied her statements to police.
"I was doing a lot of drugs back then," she said.
Daniel Betancourt pleaded guilty to aggravated battery for his role in the fight and remains on probation.
Patton pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting. He can earn probation, avoiding prison, for his cooperation in the case.
Osburn said after the verdict that he had hoped for a lesser charge of second-degree murder.
"It was hope, more than an expectation, however," Osburn said.
Eli Betancourt and Laurel both are awaiting trials, charged with first-degree murder.