San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 15th, 2010
Appeals court upholds life sentence against Perez

News Reporter

A three-judge Texas Third Court of Appeals panel affirmed the judgment of capital murder against San Marcos resident Richard Perez, Jr. The ruling came down Wednesday.

On June 8, 2009, a jury found the 22-year-old man guilty of killing his then-girlfriend’s son, six-month-old Aiden Skyler Perez.

At the point in which a reason for the appeal had to be given, Perez attorney Alexander L. Calhoun instead filed an Ander’s brief in which he criticized his client’s case as being “frivolous and without merit.”

In its Wednesday memorandum opinion, the court of appeals judges agreed with Calhoun and granted the attorney’s request to withdraw from Perez’s service. Perez’s attorney filed the motion to withdraw on May 7. Perez filed a notice of appeal on June 25, 2009.

Leticia Barcenas, 20, was at work on the evening of Jan. 3, 2008, while Perez looked after her son at their home in San Marcos.

Doctors said the child died at about 1 a.m. the following day. Witnesses testified that Perez hit the child’s head with his hands or an unknown object and faked a car accident to conceal the child’s murder. The jury that convicted Perez opted not to find him guilty of lesser offenses such as criminally negligent homicide and injury to a child. The trial court assessed Perez’ punishment as life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Perez, born and raised in San Marcos, reported having a difficult childhood with family problems. Perez dropped out of school in his senior year, after his son was born. He went back to school, but dropped out again after getting into an argument with his English teacher. Perez described having a poor relationship with his father but a good one with his mother.

Court records said Perez had been treated with Diazepam, Lorazepam and possibly Ativan in about 2005 for relief of anxiety. Perez said he used marijuana from the age of 13 to 18. Perez said he used cocaine from the ages of 13 to 19, sometimes four times per week. Perez said he abstained from all drugs except alcohol after his son was born in 2006. Perez’s girlfriend in 2007 was pregnant by someone else.

Perez had no full-time job when he was arrested and charged with killing Aiden Skyler Perez. He had no prior arrests. In 2007, Perez was attempting to obtain a GED and working as a volunteer firefighter with the South Hays Fire Department. Perez aspired to full-time employment with the fire department.

In 2007, Perez was diagnosed as having acute stress reaction accompanied by what his physician said was increasing anxiety, trouble sleeping, flashbacks, and difficulty getting images of a disturbing vehicular accident out of his mind. His physician said Perez was developing post traumatic stress disorder.

When working as a firefighter in March 2007, Perez arrived at the scene of an automobile accident on RR 12 where he extracted a corpse from a burned truck. The deceased man was the passenger in the truck his brother had been driving. The driver had escaped from the burning vehicle and was taken to the hospital. An alcoholic beverage bottle was found in between the deceased person’s legs.

When Perez pulled the man out of the truck, both legs of the corpse broke apart and the hands and feet fell off. Perez saw that part of the body was black from the burns, there were bones exposed in places, and internal organs were visible and “melted into the skin,” as he was quoted by a counselor.

About three weeks after the accident, Perez reported being unable to sleep, eat, or talk about what had happened in the days following the incident. Perez said he had flashbacks of the scene and thoughts about what could have been done to save the man. Perez said he felt anger at the driver for not attempting to get his brother out, and reported crying spells and nightmares. Perez was given increasing doses of Lexapro for depression and anxiety and some Trazodone to help him sleep.

During his psychiatric evaluation after the accident, Perez denied having thoughts of harming others.

Perez gave different accounts of the evening he killed the child, such as statements that he fell on the child and flung the baby due to an alleged twitch in his arm from years of cocaine use.

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