A jury took about two hours to sentence a man to life in prison Friday for strangling a 56-year-old man to death, beating another man and pouring drain cleaner on them both.
Miguel Angel Hernandez, 32, was convicted of the July 27, 2014, slaying of James Bowling, a 56-year-old man who was strangled after what police said was a violent fight during a burglary attempt.
During the burglary, Hernandez assaulted Bowling’s roommate, Don Keaton, 85. Keaton called 911 while Bowling was being killed in the house they shared in west Fort Worth, in the 2900 block of Cortez Drive.
Every day for six months and every other day for the next six months, Keaton had his skin scraped and re-bandaged to heal the wounds, he said.
Never miss a local story.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” Keaton said outside the courtroom on Friday during an interview with the Star-Telegram. “I just want to forget it ever happened.”
Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty.
The same jury Tuesday rejected the insanity defense argued by Hernandez’s lawyers.
Friday, Hernandez, who claimed he was following the call of the dark prince as he poured drain cleaner over his victims, testified that he had changed.
“I am charged with the capital murder of James Bowling,” Hernandez said. “Today, I am taking responsibility for all the prior wrongs I’ve done in my life. I am not blaming my mother, I’m not blaming other people. I don’t know how else to take responsibility. I don’t know what else I can do.”
Tiffany Burks, a Tarrant County prosecutor who said that no winners would emerge from the capital murder trial, challenged the idea that Hernandez had changed.
Burks said Hernandez blamed his family, his mother, alcohol and drugs, his siblings and everyone except himself for his situation.
“You heard him,” Burks said. “He has excuse after excuse, after excuse after excuse. He said his brain is bad. Well, let’s suppose he does have a bad brain. What do you think caused that? Could it be the alcohol, the cocaine, the methamphetamine? Anyone force him to do meth day after day, after day, after day?”
Fifty-eight of the 116 structures in Hernandez’s brain contain less than normal volume, Jeffrey Lewine, an official with Mind Research Network, testified.
“He is unique,” Lewine said. “He looks more like a person with a traumatic brain injury.”