Jury selection scheduled in McAllen murder case

A 27-year-old man who has spent more than two years in prison over allegations of beating a woman and then running her over is scheduled for jury selection Monday.

Lamar Lawson, a 27-year-old San Juan resident, is charged with one count of murder for the Nov. 28, 2017, killing of 51-year-old Sonya De La Cruz.

He entered a not guilty plea to the charge and has remained in jail on a $700,000 bond since his arrest.

McAllen police found De La Cruz’s body at about 5:23 a.m. in the 600 block of W. Beech Ave. in McAllen. The investigation determined she died of blunt force trauma to the head from punches to her face and being run over with a vehicle.

On Thursday, state District Judge Marla Cuellar granted a motion to amend the indictment against Lawson to say that he caused De La Cruz’s death by striking her “with his hand; and slamming her into an object.”

The indictment had previously only said striking her “with his hand,” causing her death.

McAllen police reviewed surveillance video from homes that showed someone driving a Chevrolet Equinox picked up De La Cruz from a hotel, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Detectives allege Lawson was the driver of the vehicle.

Lawson denied the allegations in a letter sent to the court in May 2018, though he did admit to having an altercation with the woman.

“I admit I had an altercation with the deceased, however, my actions were only in means of defence [sic],” the letter stated. “Ms. De la Cruz had attempted to rob me your honor after and only after I realized Ms. De la Cruz had been squeezing my gentials [sic] I forced her to release me by pushing her arm away.”

Lawson goes on to write that he backed away from De La Cruz and that she charged at him with a knife, demanding money.

“In fear of my life I began striking Ms. De la Cruz with a close [sic] fist,” Lawson wrote. “Ms. De la Cruz continuously swung the knife at me till I knocked her out.”

He wrote that he continued to back away and feared someone would retaliate or attempt to finish the robbery.

“I made my way to my car and fled,” Lawson wrote.

Court records indicate that a jury will be picked from a panel of 75 people and that the state has 71 witnesses that it could potentially call during the trial.