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Man wants confession tossed for 3rd murder trial

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Posted: Feb 28, 2014 6:17 PM

Updated: Feb 28, 2014 6:18 PM

EL PASO, Texas (AP) Attorneys for a West Texas man whose conviction in two murders was recently overturned filed a motion Friday asking a judge to suppress the confession he made after his 1993 arrest.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in December overturned the convictions of Daniel Villegas, agreeing that he had ineffective counsel at his second trial. The 37-year-old Villegas was released on bond a month later after 18 years in prison and a new trial was scheduled for May 28.

"We are disappointed for Daniel and his family," Joe Spencer, the attorney who handled Villegas' appeal of his conviction and will represent him in the upcoming trial, said when asked about his expectations that the prosecution would dismiss the case.

After the hearing, Villegas told reporters that it's been "nerve-racking to go through this again. We've got a good case, but it's going to be a bumpy road."

Villegas was sentenced in 1995 to life imprisonment in the deaths of two teenagers in an El Paso drive-by shooting. His first trial for the deaths of teenagers Armando Lazo and Robert England ended in a hung jury.

Spencer said they are asking the judge to suppress the confession to an El Paso police detective because it was made under coercion and duress. Villegas claims he confessed because the police detective said he would be raped in prison and would face the death penalty.

At hearings in 2011, Villegas' trial attorney, John Gates, said he hadn't had enough time to prepare for the second trial. The defense for the first trial had called 18 witnesses; Gates presented just one.

State District Judge Sam Medrano Jr. will rule on March 28 on Villegas' request to toss his confession, five other motions filed by the defense and two more by the District Attorney's Office.

The District Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case.

Topics: El Paso-Teen Killings

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