Murder trial delayed after jury selection ‘busts’

San Juan man accused of punching woman to death

EDINBURG — A murder trial that was set to begin Wednesday will be delayed as the state and defense could not agree on a panel of jurors.

Staff with the 275th state District Court confirmed Wednesday morning that the state and defense “busted” a jury panel during jury selection Tuesday for the murder trial of a San Juan man.

The trial will have to be rescheduled pending the convening of a new jury panel.

Lamar Lawson Martinez, 27, is accused of punching Sonya Mynette Casady De La Cruz to death in late November 2017 in McAllen. Lawson is also accused of running her over with his vehicle before fleeing the scene.

The 51-year-old woman’s body was found at about 5 a.m. Nov. 28, 2017, in the 600 block of West Beech Avenue in McAllen, police officials said at the time.

De La Cruz, originally of Frankfurt, Indiana who lived in Texas for more than two decades, died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head caused by punches to her face, and someone driving over her with a vehicle, according to a probable cause affidavit released by the police.

On the day of the crash, McAllen police investigators were able to locate Lawson through the use of surveillance footage, which led them to Lawson’s Chevrolet Equinox at a nearby hotel.

Subsequently, Lawson confessed to “having caused the victim’s injury that led to her death,” according to a statement he made to police officers.

Lawson has been in custody since he was booked into the county jail on Nov. 30, 2017 — more than 800 days ago.

Opening statements were set to begin Wednesday morning, with testimony to begin shortly afterward.

The state, which updated its witness list earlier this month, has more than 70 witnesses scheduled for potential testimony, including police officers who responded to the scene of the incident, emergency medical staff, expert witnesses, and at least one member of De La Cruz’s family, to name a few, according to court records.

If convicted of murder, a first degree felony, Lawson faces up to life in prison.