Judge removes murder defendant from courtroom after outburst at daughter

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Gabrielle Reyes was about a half-block from her Arlington home four years ago this month when she heard a gunshot, she testified Wednesday. When she got to the house, she saw her father, Arthur Reyes, lying in a pool of blood in the garage.

Her mother, Colette Reyes, was arrested that night by Arlington police responding to a call about a shooting.

Days earlier, Colette Reyes screamed at her husband and younger daughter, calling on God to curse them for various reasons. She stripped to the waist and began shaking her breasts to the sky, calling her daughter a prostitute and saying she would go to hell, Gabrielle Reyes testified.

After more than 20 years of marriage, Arthur Reyes, a lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington, was divorcing her mother because she would not get help for her mental illness, Gabrielle Reyes testified.

Colette Reyes is on trial on a murder charge in the death of Arthur Reyes, 45, who was fatally shot the night of Nov. 22, 2009, at the family’s home in the 1800 block of Lakeside Drive in Arlington. His lawyer filed divorce papers the next afternoon, not knowing his client was dead.

Defense attorney Warren St. John told jurors that she should be found not guilty by reason of mental illness, which he said was diagnosed in 1994 when the family lived in California.

As her daughter began testifying Wednesday morning, Colette Reyes slowly rocked back and forth but soon became agitated.

“I hate liars,” Colette Reyes called out, holding a Bible. “Liars will go to hell.”

Visiting Judge Elizabeth Berry told Reyes that if she was not quiet, she would be removed from the courtroom. But Reyes yelled at her daughter.

“You beat me up with the Bible,” Reyes screamed between whimpering and crying. “You will go to hell, little girl! Remember after my surgery, you beat me up and broke the cast. Stop lying, little girl! All the time, all the time, all the time. I am the chosen one of Christ.”

Bailiffs moved Reyes to the courtroom’s holding cell, where she was heard singing. Berry told the bailiffs to activate a monitor so that Reyes could see and hear testimony.

In a competency hearing Monday, Berry also had Reyes removed from court because she refused to be quiet. But Reyes was found competent to stand trial.

Reyes has been in and out of state psychiatric facilities since her husband’s death and been judged competent, incompetent and now competent for trial.

Prosecutor Sean Colston told jurors that they would hear a tape recording that Colette Reyes made during the shooting.

“As you listen to the tape, you will see that there’s no argument going on,” Colston said. “You will hear that Arthur Reyes was shot in midsentence.”

Gabrielle Reyes, 21, testified that her mother moved to the United States from Haiti when she was 12. She and Arthur Reyes had been married for more than 20 years. She abused her oldest daughter, Naomi, now 24, and her father, Gabrielle Reyes said.

“I can’t say that I love her anymore,” Gabrielle Reyes testified. “Colette had always assumed that her daughter was lesbian. She would have us curse all the lesbians and all the blacks. She once beat Naomi with a shoe because she heard Naomi spoke to a lesbian.”

On the day her father was killed, she and he were moving out of the house to an apartment near the University of Texas at Arlington and were at their house to collect the last of their belongings, Gabrielle Reyes said.

Arthur Reyes had three guns, but her mother had hidden them, Gabrielle said.

“We asked her about them again, but she said we didn’t need them right now,” Gabrielle testified. “She said we could get them later. Whenever we would ask, she would always put us off somehow.

“I believe she knows the difference between right and wrong. I have no doubt that she knew what she was doing. I believe that’s why she hid the guns. I believe it was premeditated.”

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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