Rejecting her insanity defense, a Tarrant County jury convicted an Arlington woman and sentenced her to 45 years in prison on Wednesday for killing her husband.
Colette Reyes admitted that she shot her husband, Arthur Reyes, four years ago next week and was charged with murder. But she pleaded not guilty by reason of severe mental disease or defect.
Jurors returned the guilty verdict on Wednesday and later deliberated about 11/2 hours before recommending the 45-year sentence, according to a news release from the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.
Defense attorney Warren St. John presented evidence that Colette Reyes has been diagnosed repeatedly since 1994 with various mental illnesses, including major depression, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
Reyes has been in and out of state psychiatric facilities since her husband’s death. In January, a jury found her competent to stand trial and just before her trial began last week, visiting Judge Elizabeth Berry found her competent.
“During the offense, she had a psychotic breakdown,” St. John said Tuesday during his closing statement. “After the offense, she goes to a state mental hospital where she is treated. You don’t go there unless you have a severe mental illness.”
Reyes made an audio tape of her last conversation with her husband to use in her divorce, Sean Colston, Tarrant County prosecutor, told the jury on Tuesday. Reyes left the tape on while she shot him once in the head from about 3 feet away, Colston said.
Reyes interrupted Colston, shouting “Hallelujah!”
Arthur Reyes “wanted orgies, he wanted orgies. I’m a Christian woman,” Reyes screamed. Berry cautioned her to be quiet or she would be removed from the courtroom for the third time.
Arthur Reyes, 45, was fatally shot on Nov. 22, 2009, in the garage of the family’s home in the 1800 block of Lakeside Drive in Arlington.
Colston and prosecutor Michelle Dobson presented evidence that Arthur Reyes had filed for divorce after more than 20 years of marriage and had recently moved out of the house. They argued that Colette Reyes faked and exaggerated her mental illness, using it to control her husband and to get things that she wanted.
That evening, Arthur Reyes dropped off his youngest daughter, Gabrielle Reyes, at a friend’s house and went to get some belongings at the Lakeside Drive house. While he was gathering items in the garage, he called his daughter to come and help him, Gabrielle Reyes testified last week. When she arrived minutes later, she found him lying in a pool of blood in the garage.
As she was running back to her friend’s house, she called 911 and reported that she believed her mother shot her dad, she testified.
Arthur Reyes was divorcing his wife because she would not get help for her mental illness, Gabrielle Reyes testified. His lawyer filed the divorce papers the day after Reyes was killed, not knowing his client was dead.
Arthur Reyes had been a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Texas at Arlington since August 1999.
The couple’s two daughters both testified that their mother was verbally abusive. One daughter testified that she was occasionally physically abusive.
Last Wednesday, as Gabrielle Reyes testified, 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.”
Judge 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 hear testimony.
In a competency hearing on Nov. 4, Berry had Reyes removed from court because she refused to be quiet.
This story includes information from Star-Telegram archives.