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Capital Murder Trial For Defendant Accused of Killing San Antonio Police Officer Robert Deckard Begins in Atascosa County, Texas

Testimony in Shawn Luis Puente’s capital murder trial started today in Atascosa County, Texas. Puente is accused of killing San Antonio Police Officer Robert Deckard. Puente and his girlfriend are alleged to have led Deckard, along with other officers, on a high speed chase from San Antonio down to Wilson County after they robbed a convenient store in San Antonio.

Officer Deckard was shot in the head during the chase on December 7, 2013. He died 13 days later in the hospital. He was only 31 years old.If convicted, the State of Texas is seeking the death penalty. The jury will have to decide to sentence Puente to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Puente’s girlfriend, Jenevieve Ramos, will go trial at a later date and the state is also seeking the death penalty in that case as well.

During opening statements today, defense counsel apparently told the jury that Puente shot the fatal shot, but asked the jurors to not make a quick decision. Counsel explained that her client was a meth addict and on a drug binge on the night of the shooting.

Puente’s trial has already made the news for issues that started during jury selection. Defense counsel moved for a change of venue after District Audrey Louis was exposed for engaging local law enforcement in the jury selection process. Louis sent an email to local sheriff’s with the names and addresses of potential jurors and asked that they provide their input on who should and should not be selected. Her email asked the officers to “please, please go through” the list of names and addresses” and “let me know the yes’s, no’s and maybes. Or on a scale of one to 10, whatever you think works best. … I’ll owe you all a dinner or beverage of your choice! … Can’t thank you enough! This guy deserves to die, and y’all will play a big part in helping by your input.”

Two potential jurors came forward and provided affidavits that they were contacted by law enforcement and felt that they were being hand-picked to sit on the jury.

Despite this evidence coming to light, Judge Donna Rayes denied the defense’s request for a venue transfer. These issues will need to be raised in his appeal if he is convicted.