Donna man to be sentenced in fatal home invasion case

McALLEN — One of three men involved in a 2012 home invasion in Edinburg that turned deadly is set to be sentenced later this month.

Jesse Joe Tello Mata is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 23 before U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa for his role in a home invasion in April 2012 that left one Edinburg man dead. The case is believed to be one of mistaken identity.

Mata, 28, along with his attorney, Daniel Mora, announced Wednesday he was ready to proceed with his federal sentencing hearing, which was last reset July 5, court records show

(Read the Criminal Complaint)

The Donna man, along with his uncle Juan Antonio Tello Moreno, 36, also of Donna, and Alberto Carrasco Vela, 39, of Mercedes, participated in the home invasion that left Victor Serna, 40, of Edinburg, dead.

The trio admitted to participating in the home invasion, attempting to steal what they believed was roughly 300 pounds of marijuana from inside Serna’s residence, located in the 7100 block of Rambo Drive in Edinburg.

But when the men entered the home at about 2 a.m., Serna’s son, Eric Serna, then 21 years old, intercepted one of the intruders and struggled to take away a rifle from one of the suspects.

“Eric Serna told investigators that while asleep in his room with his wife and young child, he heard someone breaking through the front door of their residence,” the complaint filed against Mata read. “After getting up from his bed, he encountered a man carrying a rifle. At that point, Eric Serna began struggling with this man for control of the rifle.”

While this was happening, Eric Serna told authorities, his father, Victor Serna, carrying a handgun, came out of his bedroom to aid his son.

“While struggling with this man, another man came from behind Victor Serna and shot him in the back of the head and then shot Eric Serna in the stomach and leg,” the record stated.

Victor Serna died a few days later at a local hospital.

Mata, who fled the scene of the shooting, was arrested about two weeks later by investigators with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office at his home in the 600 block of Canal Street in Donna.

According to statements Mata made to investigators, he was the getaway driver of one of two vehicles used during the home invasion.

Mata told authorities it was his uncle, Moreno, who approached him about an opportunity to steal marijuana from a residence in Edinburg.

In addition, Mata told investigators that he and Moreno, along with other men, one of whom was carrying a rifle, met at a location near the Serna’s residence.

“After this meeting, four men got into an SUV; Mata drove a Ford Explorer; and Moreno drove a Grand Prix. Mata followed the SUV to (the Serna residence) where several men from the SUV broke into the residence,” the document read. “Shortly thereafter, Mata saw a man carrying a large bundle believed to contain marijuana and putting it into the SUV.”

Mata then heard shots and saw another man who had been shot, later identified as Vela, jump into the Ford Explorer. He drove off and met with Moreno who transported the man to the hospital.

In the aftermath of the home invasion, sheriff’s deputies arrived at the residence and found the homeowner, Victor Serna, unconscious and lying in a pool of blood, court records show.

Deputies also found Eric Serna, the homeowner’s son, who told them that men had stormed the house and shot at them while his father returned fire. Both father and son were taken to a local hospital where they were treated for blunt force trauma and gunshot wounds.

Moreno told investigators that he drove around the area near the Serna’s residence as a lookout for law enforcement while others committed the home invasion.

Moreno also told investigators that his nephew, Mata, drove a Ford Explorer to the residence for the purposes of transporting the marijuana they were going to steal.

Moreno stated that while he was conducting countersurveillance of law enforcement, he met up with Mata and saw a man in the Ford Explorer that had been shot during the home invasion, who he subsequently drove to Edinburg’s Children’s Hospital.

Investigators charged Moreno and Vela with the same charges as Mata. The suspects said they were looking for 300 pounds of marijuana that was hidden in a storage shed.

Initially, investigators believed that the home invasion had been carried out by two men, but as the case moved forward, they found that six men and two vehicles had been involved. The identities of the additional suspects were never released.

Moreno, Vela and Mata each pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge and a federal violent crime charge in August 2014, court records show. Sentencing hearings for Moreno and Vela have not yet been set.