Grand jury indicts 2 for fatal hotel stabbing

Two men have been indicted for capital murder over allegations they orchestrated a scheme to set up the sale of a pound of cocaine to rob a man, who was fatally stabbed, of $11,000.

Stephen Santos

Edinburg police arrested 34-year-old Stephen Santos and 26-year-old Cornelio Mata Jr. on June 3 and charged them with 29-year-old South Carolina resident Yadiel Miguel Morales’ death.

A grand jury indicted the men on Oct. 1 and Mata is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Wednesday.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Morales was stabbed with his own knife during an altercation at the Texas Inn in Edinburg. Jeffrey Manuel Vargas, who went with Morales to the hotel, was shot with his own weapon during the fatal scuffle, according to police.

Cornelio Mata Jr.

Edinburg police charged Vargas with attempted murder for allegedly shooting Santos in his leg but court records don’t reflect an indictment against the man.

Detectives believe that Santos and Mata planned to sell Morales cocaine to rob him of $11,000.

“During the interview, Jeffrey states that he got into a struggle with Stephen, and shoots his gun twice,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Mata told police he began fighting with Morales, who had a knife, authorities say.

“Cornelio states that as he is fighting with Yadiel, someone shoots a weapon inside of the room,” the probable cause affidavit states. “Cornelio states that after the altercation, he sees Yadiel bleeding, and grabs a bag containing money as he walks out of the room.”

After their arrests, Edinburg police spokeswoman Arielle Benedict said no drugs were recovered from the crime scene.

Mata’s arraignment Wednesday, however, is unlikely to go forward as he is in federal custody over allegations that he violated his supervised release by being arrested for capital murder.

On January 11, 2017, federal authorities arrested Mata at the Hidalgo port of entry after U.S. Customs and Border Protection discovered 1,720 rounds of 7.62 caliber ammunition, 100 rounds of 50 caliber ammunition, six rounds of 9mm ammunition, 37 7.62 caliber magazines and one Taurus 9mm handgun in a vehicle he was in.

According to the criminal complaint, Mata and three other men agreed to sell the ammunition to a person in Reynosa and split the proceeds.

Mata had been out of federal prison for a little more than a year before being arrested for capital murder.

Santos is scheduled for arraignment on a charge of capital murder and evading arrest with a vehicle on Oct. 26, but that too is unlikely to proceed as Santos is also in federal custody over allegations he violated his supervised release by being arrested for capital murder.

He plead guilty to carjacking a man on May 31, 2011, and also has a 2006 conviction for attempting to smuggle 40 bundles of marijuana weighing approximately 950 pounds of marijuana.

Santos had been out of federal prison for less than six months before being arrested for capital murder.