Prosecutor: Final state's witness in Navarro trial to testify Friday morning

STEVE NASH steve.nash@brownwoodbulletin.com
Matthew Navarro capital murder trial

Jurors in the Matthew Navarro capital murder trial went home a few minutes early Thursday afternoon with the knowledge that the final state's witness in a trial that's approaching two weeks in length will be testifying Friday morning.

After 35th District Judge Steve Ellis excused the panel, District Attorney Micheal Murray said he expects the witness to testify until about 10:30 a.m. Defense attorney Evan Pierce-Jones said he expects to finish the defense case by mid-afternoon. Ellis said he anticipates that attorneys will present closing arguments Monday.

Navarro, 24, is one of four men charged in the shooting death of Ronald Philen in Brownwood. Philen was shot to death early on the morning of Dec. 11, 2009.

Jurors spent most of Thursday hearing testimony by Texas Ranger Danny Crawford and watching a video depicting an interview Crawford and Brownwood police detective Bruce Spruill conducted of Navarro in January 2012, before Navarro's arrest. Navarro told the two lawmen he'd been with at his home with his then-girlfriend the night of Dec. 10, 2009. 

Testifying as a state's witness, Shaunta Denison said she had not been at Navarro's home that night.

After Ellis excused jurors, Jones told Ellis he'd been told that one of Navarro's co-defendants — either Alex Gil Jr. or Efrain Castillo III — had been indicted for aggravated perjury following their testimony in the trial of another co-defendant, Pedro Rocha.

Jones said the information originated with a member of the grand jury panel that supposedly returned the perjury indictment and made its way to Jones. Jones said he could find no record in the district clerk's office of a perjury indictment against Gil or Castillo. Jones asked Ellis to direct the district attorney's office to produce documents related to a perjury indictment.

"There's no truth to it," Murray said, addressing Jones' statements.

No witness in the Rocha trial was indicted for perjury, Murray said. He did say a witness in another trial that had nothing to do with the Rocha trial had been indicted for perjury.

Ellis said he'd never seen any perjury indictment against Gil or Castillo and  said he was satisfied with Murray's response. "I'm not going to go back through and review this matter any further," Ellis said.