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Saturday, 31 January 2009

Raul Cortez, convicted this week of capital murder was a member of a violent street gang

Raul Cortez, convicted this week of capital murder was a member of a violent street gang while growing up in Chicago, witnesses told a Collin County jury Friday. The testimony came during the punishment phase in the trial of Raul Cortez, who was found guilty Thursday of killing four people inside a home here during a botched robbery plot. The same jury must decide whether Cortez should die for the crime or be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. Cortez was convicted for the March 12, 2004, shooting deaths of Rosa Barbosa, 46; her nephew, Matthew Barbosa, 25; and his friends Austin York, 18, and Matthew Self, 17.On Friday, the jury saw photographs of gang symbols – as well as a Bible verse and a cross – tattooed on Cortez's body. Similar symbols and gang colors appeared on Cortez's MySpace page at the time of his arrest in 2007, McKinney police Detective Diana Tilton testified. Chicago police Officer James Vins testified that the group was that city's "No. 1 most violent street gang" and is involved in homicides, narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery and other crimes.Cortez's ex-wife testified that Cortez was proud of his Chicago gang affiliation and became friendly with Mexican prison gang members after he moved to Texas. She told the jury Cortez had a "dark side" and told her he once led a raid of rival gang members' homes in Chicago. "They killed them all," said the woman who is not being identified because she is a victim of childhood molestation. On cross examination by defense attorney Doug Parks, the woman testified that Cortez had never mistreated her during their six-month marriage and that she had no proof he had ever killed anyone. After the prosecution rested its case, defense witness Dr. Mark Vigen, a psychologist who has studied Texas prisons, described prison life to jury members. He told them inmates serving life sentences are "probably the least problematic of inmates." Visiting state District Judge Webb Biard sent the jury home about 4:30 p.m. Friday and told them to bring an overnight bag Monday when they will probably begin their sentencing deliberations.


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