Rocha Jr. found guilty of capital murder, sentenced to life without parole

Defense rests in Rocha murder trial

BROWNWOOD, Texas - A jury has found 22-year-old Pedro Rocha Jr. guilty of capital murder in the Dec. 11, 2009, death of Ronald Philen after breaking into Philen's home to steal marijuana.

Rocha will now spend life in prison without the possibility of parole.

From the previous story:

Entering the second week of the Rocha murder trial, the defense rested its case as of Monday afternoon and closing arguments will begin Tuesday morning.

Pedro Rocha Jr., 22, is one of four men charged with murdering Ronald Philen on Dec. 11, 2009, after breaking into his home to steal marijuana.

Retired detective Robert Mullins was the last person on the defense attorney's witness list.

The defense attorney, Todd Steele, said it is reasonable to believe that Randall Philen – who was originally convicted and then later acquitted of his brother's murder – is still the culprit. He indicated the possibility exists that Randall shot Ronald and then staged a scene to look like someone broke in.

"Physical evidence still shows that the door panel was kicked out after Ronald had been shot," Steele said in Mullins' cross examination. "That was the evidence available at the time and that has not changed."

None of the fingerprints on the door belonged to Philen, but Steele argued there was a possibility that Philen wiped his prints and washed his hands before authorities arrived to the scene.

Evidence indicated that Ronald was shot, but Randall did not have any gunshot residue on his hands. 

Randall told officers at the time that his brother was beaten after he was shot.

There was no evidence of injuries to support Randall's story until autopsy photos, which were presented to the jury, revealed a bruise under Ronald's eye and a cut to his forehead. 

Mullins said the physical injuries on Ronald's face were difficult to notice before because of the large amounts of blood.

According to Sgt. Troy Carroll's testimony, the four intruders were searching for 50 pounds of marijuana, but only less than half a pound of pot was recovered. They also wanted money, and only found $9 on location.

Two of the four men involved in this case, 23-year-old Alex "Lucky" Gil Jr. and 22-year-old Efrain Castillo, have pleaded guilty for reduced sentences. The fourth man, 22-year-old Matthew Navarro, is awaiting trial.

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