Court hearing confirms Mercedes man mistakenly charged with murder

Paul Buenrostro

The defense attorney representing a 36-year-old Weslaco man confirmed in court Wednesday afternoon that his client was arraigned on murder charges despite not being accused of killing anyone.

Jesus “Jesse” Contreras made the comment during a bond reduction hearing for Paul Buenrostro, who is accused of attempting to light his girlfriend on fire and choking the woman.

Buenrostro is charged with attempted murder and assault family/house member impede breath/circulation.

When he was arrested on Oct. 8, however, the jail’s booking report and online records said he was charged with murder, not attempted murder.

The probable cause affidavit against him indicated he failed to commit murder.

Buenrostro remains in the Hidalgo County Detention Center on $300,000 in bonds that were set at the hearing where he was mistakenly charged with murder. Contreras is seeking to reduce the bonds to $30,000.

State district Judge Israel Ramon Jr., however, held off on ruling because he wants to hear from the alleged victim in the case, who has apparently signed an affidavit of non-prosecution.

Contreras told the judge that he did not reach out to the woman. Instead, she reached out to him via Facebook as Contreras said he knows both families.

Prosecutor Lauren Sepulveda, who said she is opposed to a bond reduction because the case involves an allegation of domestic violence, told Ramon that the alleged victim in the case does not dispute the allegations.

Rather, she says the alleged victim doesn’t want to testify and according to the affidavit, she says that she and Buenrostro settled the issue.

That’s of interest to Sepulveda, who said she’s curious how that happened given Buenrostro is currently incarcerated.

In addition, the man had been quarantined inside the jail. That quarantine ended Wednesday morning.

That point also interested Ramon, the judge.

Mercedes police accuse Buenrostro of pouring lighter fluid on his girlfriend and flicking a lit cigarette at her on Oct. 4 after the pair had a fight while drinking alcohol at her residence.

Police did not respond to her residence until Oct. 5 at about 5:11 p.m.

Authorities there did not arrest Buenrostro until Oct. 8.

He’s also accused of choking her twice on Oct. 4 until an unknown person showed up and he ran away.