Man halts capital murder trial to plead guilty to shooting two teenage boys

A man has pleaded guilty to shooting dead two people in a South Side apartment, ending his capital murder trial on the fourth day.

Thursday’s proceedings against Jonathan Winston Johnson included testimony from Cynthia Hernandez, a survivor of the deadly shooting and mother of one of those killed, who recounted the attack.

But the trial stalled when Johnson pleaded guilty to a declassified murder charge as part of a deal for a 40-year prison sentence with the possibility of parole. He will be eligible for parole after serving half of his prison sentence.

Jurors were set to see evidence of what was on Johnson’s phone, including a screenshot of a TV news story about his arrest two days after the fatal shooting.

On ExpressNews.com: Bloody gunshots that killed 2 San Antonio teens described in capital murder trial

Johnson also pleaded guilty to assaulting a public official. State District Judge Velia Meza handed down a five-year prison sentence to run concurrently with the 40-year sentence, with credit for time served. No fines were imposed for either conviction.

Hernandez testified that on February 5, 2019, she went to the apartment of her daughter, Angelica Rangel, because her phone was dead and she wanted to warn her of a verbal threat against her made by a friend. .

Around 8 p.m., at Robin’s Nest Apartments, 538 Hot Wells Blvd., Hernandez, his daughter, son Andres Luis Rangel, his girlfriend and two of Hernandez’s grandchildren were about to have dinner when a noise came from the front door.

Andres Rangel, 19, went to see what it was, but the door was kicked open, a man later identified as Johnson began shooting at the family. Rangel and his girlfriend, Katrina Marie Casarez, 18, both died at the scene.

In a bedroom, Hernandez was punched four times – twice in the upper right shoulder, leg and hip. She fell and pushed her 5-year-old grandson under a bed telling him to shut up. Angelica Rangel placed a blanket over her daughter.

Defense attorney William Reece examines photographs filed as evidence at Jonathan Johnson’s capital murder trial on Thursday. Johnson later pleaded guilty to murder, admitting to killing 19-year-old Andres Luis Rangel and 18-year-old Katrina Marie Casarez during a February 2019 home invasion at Robin’s Nest Apartments on the South Side. Two other women were shot in the attack but survived.

Jerry Lara / San Antonio Express-News

“I told him (the girl) not to make a noise,” Hernandez said. “I just remember shooting.”

Angelica Rangel was also shot. Hernandez fell unconscious. A month of recovery followed, including surgery on his colon, blood transfusions, dialysis treatments and infections.

Det. San Antonio Police Department. Mark Morales testified Thursday that a victim told him the attack was sparked by a disagreement over the phones.

Hernandez told jurors she believed Johnson was sent by someone else, a friend of Angelica Rangel.

On Wednesday, a fire department captain said he heard Johnson say after his arrest that he was just a “drug dealer” and didn’t mean to hurt anyone. Morales said he considered the statement an admission of guilt.

During Morales’ testimony, jurors also heard 911 calls made by Angelica Rangel, who, panicked and breathing heavily, could be heard asking police to hurry to the apartment because a man was shooting. about his brother and his girlfriend.

Angelica Rangel testified Tuesday that she had met Johnson earlier, recognized him and asked, “Why are you doing this?” before being killed herself. On her second call to 911, she sounded like she was in silent shock when she told the dispatcher, “Everyone’s dead.” Children could be heard moaning in the background.

With the sudden guilty plea and sentencing, Hernandez made a victim impact statement, saying his son had just started working as a plumber and his girlfriend wanted to go to school to become a teacher.

In a statement read by prosecutors, Casarez’s mother said she thinks about her every day and will never see her again because of Johnson. She said she hated that Johnson could walk the earth while her daughter is in heaven.

Johnson sat in silence, staring ahead behind his light blue mask as family members spoke.

“I will never forgive you for taking my baby away,” Hernandez said. “I hope God will, because I won’t.”

[email protected]