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Saturday, 8 November 2008

Rio Grande Valley gang members are now in a war with national "violent hate gangs," such as the Texas Syndicate, Mexican Mafia and the Latin Kings

prosecution witness on Thursday told jurors how confessed police shooter Abraham Mar assaulted a rival gang member in a courthouse holding cell on Monday.A jury in the 357th state District Court is hearing testimony to decide Mar's sentence for the attempted capital murder of Harlingen police Officer Carlos Diaz, who Mar admitted to shooting on June 25.Thursday's testimony also included Diaz's account of the shooting, as well as testimony from Mar's mother, who said her son was beaten by his alcoholic father and had attempted suicide.Mar, who had vomited twice during Wednesday's testimony, vomited again when his mother reached the witness stand.
Cameron County sheriff's Lt. Dionicio Cortez, testifying as a gang expert, said he was seated in a break room behind the courtroom Monday when he heard a scuffle in a nearby holding cell, where he found two bailiffs trying to break up a fight.
Mar, 19, and a Los Vallucos gang member were beating a member of the rival Texas Syndicate gang, Cortez said. Los Vallucos, or "Valley guys," is a name for members of Lower Rio Grande Valley gangs from Brownsville, Harlingen and San Benito.
Earlier testimony revealed Mar is a member of a local Harlingen gang called the West Side Aquas.Rio Grande Valley gang members are now in a war with national "violent hate gangs," such as the Texas Syndicate, Mexican Mafia and the Latin Kings, said Cortez, who formerly was a California police officer.Diaz took the witness stand next, giving an emotional account of how he received a radio call about someone smoking marijuana at the Corner Mart on F Street in Harlingen.When he arrived, he at first did not see anyone using drugs, but there were a lot of people in the store, he testified.He then saw Mar driving away with one of his car's tail lights out, Diaz said. As he drove toward Mar, he saw the teen get out with a rifle.Mar then aimed the rifle straight at him, he said."It didn't go off," Diaz told the court. "He turned it over and did something to it and then he started shooting at me."Diaz had to shut his eyes because glass from the windshield was striking his face, he said."I felt something hit me. I felt myself bleeding," he said, choking on his words.He tried to reach for his handgun but couldn't grip it because a bullet had struck his knuckle, he said. He couldn't get his seatbelt off and his hand dropped the radio microphone, he said.Diaz described how he felt bullets strike his hand, arm, chest and head and felt "blood gushing from my shoulder." He turned on his portable radio and screamed for help, identifying Mar as the shooter because Diaz feared the teen would succeed in killing him."I wanted everyone to know who did it," the officer testified.He then saw Mar get into his car and leave, Diaz told the court. When other officers arrived, they helped him out of his car.He walked to another patrol car, opened the rear door and climbed in, asking a fellow officer to drive him quickly to the hospital, Diaz said.At Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen, he began walking to the emergency room with help from other officers, he told the court. Nearby paramedics stopped him and lifted him onto a gurney.
Prosecutors then showed the jury the video captured by the onboard camera in Diaz's patrol car.The recording shows Mar approaching with the rifle and firing directly at the officer. Bullet holes quickly appear in the windshield.Diaz, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Somalia, testified he has had two surgery sessions since the attack and faces more operations. He hopes to return to duty.He is undergoing physical therapy and is also seeing a psychologist, he said. But he has exhausted his medical insurance benefits.As the visibly shaken Diaz left the witness stand, nearly everyone in the courtroom stood in his honor.After prosecutors rested their case, defense attorneys put Mar's mother, Virginia Mar, on the witness stand.She said that although she and her other children all have documents to legally work in the United States, she went to Mexico in 1989 to give birth to Abraham because she didn't have $5,000 to pay a hospital in Harlingen.At that point in her testimony, Abraham Mar became ill in the courtroom, as he had done on Wednesday, and the judge ordered a recess.When she resumed testifying, Mar's mother said she had been cleaning houses seven days a week at $25 a day in 1989, but made even less in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, by baking bread and sewing, so she returned to Harlingen with her children.
When Abraham was about a year old, his father returned from working in North Carolina, she said. Her husband saw the baby's curly hair and denied he was the boy's father, Virginia Mar said tearfully.Her husband, an alcoholic, had a violent temper and once threw a hammer at her, she said. And he regularly beat Abraham with a piece of rope for making bad grades in school.He told the boy he was worthless and called him obscene names, Virginia Mar testified. Her other children all made better grades.She once caught Abraham, 15 at the time, trying to hang himself, Virginia Mar said, weeping on the witness stand. Her son had to turn to his friends for love and happiness.Defense testimony is set to resume today in Judge Leonel Alejandro's courtroom.Mar faces up to life in prison, said a spokesman for the Cameron County district attorney's office. Because Mar's lengthy police record consists mostly of juvenile offenses, he does not fall under the "three strikes and you're out" law, which calls for a minimum 25-year sentence.


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