Peñitas man declines plea deal in murder case

A 32-year-old Peñitas man rejected a plea deal on Wednesday that would send him to prison for 60 years if he pleaded guilty to bludgeoning his 30-year-old common-law wife to death with a cement block in 2017.

Eduardo Gonzalez Cruz appeared in court from the Hidalgo County Detention Center via videoconferencing for the hearing. He has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Prosecutor Roxanna Salinas made the offer to Gonzalez’s attorneys, Lucia Regalado and Hector Hernandez Jr., on Wednesday morning. After a brief deliberation with Gonzalez, Regalado announced that he wasn’t accepting the offer.

Gonzalez had been scheduled for a jury trial on Monday, but those are on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. State District Judge Fernando Mancias set a pre-trial and motion to suppress hearing for late October.

Police arrested the man on Oct. 2, 2017, and charged him with killing Adaly Tellez Johnson on Oct. 1, 2017, during a domestic dispute.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office has alleged Gonzalez implicated himself, telling investigators he killed Tellez during a domestic dispute.

Authorities investigating the crime scene in the 39000 block of Brittney Street in rural Peñitas say there were obvious signs of foul play, adding that witnesses implicated Gonzalez in the woman’s death.

“…Adaly appeared to have been bludgeoned to death,” a news release stated. “Blood evidence of an assault was found at the rear of the residence as well as a cement block with blood stains on it, believed to be the murder weapon.”

He has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated kidnapping and three counts of credit or debit card abuse aslo stemming from Oct. 1, 2017.

The indictment alleges he threatened a woman with a bicycle peg and took her credit card. He’s also accused of kidnapping two people.

It’s not immediately clear how or whether the murder, robbery and kidnappings are related, just that they are alleged to have happened on the same day.