Murder Trial Underway for Man Accused of Killing Girlfriend in 2007
UPDATE (1/11): Ruben Torres pleaded no contest in the murder of Abigail Estrada. The judge said after the evidence she heard she sentenced him to 18 years.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS will continue to bring you the latest details.
BROWNSVILLE - The trial of a man accused of killing a 13-year-old girl from Harlingen nearly a decade ago is underway.
Ruben Torres is on trial for allegedly murdering Abigail Estrada. The teen was reported missing in June 2007.
The jury was selected on Monday and the opening statements began Tuesday morning. Several witnesses took the stand, including Estrada's mother, Torres's father, a Harlingen police officer, relatives and several friends.
One witness testified Torres admitted to being involved in the killing of his then girlfriend, Estrada, because she snitched on him.
According to an arrest warrant used to charge Torres in 2015, Estrada was a key witness in a drive-by shooting. She was reportedly the driver and Torres was the shooter.
The state said evidence would show that's why Estrada went missing.
However, the defense said in their opening statements there was no evidence. They told the jury they won't see any DNA evidence connecting Torres to Estrada's disappearance.
The state called their first witness to the stand - Jessenia Sanchez, Estrada's mother.
She told the jury after the drive-by shooting Estrada went to Austin to stay with family. She said Torres was begging the family to bring her back and kept calling.
Estrada eventually returned from Austin on a bus. The ticket was paid for by Torres.
Torres came to Estrada's apartment to pick her up. Her mother said she left with a tank top, shorts and slippers, no bag or purse. That was the last time she heard or saw her daughter.
Sanchez said she doesn't believe her daughter is alive. She said she asked Torres about where her daughter was and he said he didn't know.
She also testified Torres didn't help in the search for Estrada.
Estrada's second cousin was next to take the stand, followed by Estrada's brother.
The brother said he witnessed Torres conducting the drive-by shooting. He did state that his sister was in the car and he didn't know Torres was going to shoot.
The brother said Torres told the passengers in the car, "If you snitch, I'll kill you."
Torres's father also took the stand and said he wasn't aware of the relationship between his son and Estrada. He recalled taking his sister and Torres to New Mexico after Estrada went missing. He said Torres was "acting fine."
Torres's father mentioned not hearing from his son once he dropped him off in New Mexico and filed a missing person's report.
Another witness called to the stand was one of Torres's friends, who testified Torres picked up Estrada from her place and shot her because she "snitched." He didn't recall where the body was.
The defense attorney questioned the same friend and he gave conflicting statements. He said Torres told him another person shot Estrada.
The state called the next witness, a Harlingen police officer. The officer said Torres told him where Estrada's body was and would show him.
Apparently they were told her body was in a sugarcane field. Investigators didn't recover a body. The detective mentioned a hurricane had hit and that may have thrown investigators off.
The defense attorney questioned the officer. The officer said Torres told him he didn't harm Estrada. He said he didn't believe Estrada ran away.
The state said it had no more witnesses to call. Court will be back in session Wednesday morning.
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