Woman begged for her life before defendant shot her, witness says

CLEBURNE -- A Godley woman begged for her life -- and for the lives of her horses -- before Mark Anthony Soliz shot her in the head, a former girlfriend of Soliz's testified Tuesday.

The girlfriend testified that Soliz, a gang member, laughed as he told her about killing Nancy Weatherly in June 2010. He found Weatherly's Texas accent amusing.

"She was crying, begging for her life, praying for him not to kill her," the 23-year-old woman, also a gang member, testified. "He was laughing about it."

Soliz is charged with capital murder in the death of Weatherly, 61, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The Star-Telegram is not naming the former girlfriend because she fears gang retaliation.

She testified that Soliz told her that the woman asked him not to take her jewelry box, which her mother had given to her before she died.

"He told her to go be with her mom, and he shot her," the girlfriend testified.

She also testified that Soliz told her about shooting beer deliveryman Ruben Martinez.

"He shot him because he only had $10," she said.

During much of the trial, now in its second week, Soliz has been so inattentive that he has occasionally fallen asleep. On Tuesday, he sat forward and stared intently at the young woman as she testified. The woman was wearing a jail jumpsuit and was handcuffed.

An 8-day crime spree

The girlfriend's testimony was so peppered with street and gang slang that Tarrant County prosecutor Christy Jack offered a quick primer for jurors on gang terms such as jacking (robbing), cutting (loving) and straps (guns).

Jack has joined Johnson County Assistant District Attorneys Martin Strahan and Larry Chambless in prosecuting the case.

A co-defendant, Jose "Joe" Ramos, is awaiting trial on a capital murder charge in Weatherly's death, and Soliz and Ramos face capital murder charges in Tarrant County in Martinez's death.

Prosecutors say the killings capped an eight-day crime spree across two counties. The girlfriend said that she and Soliz -- and others -- were high on methamphetamine for most of the week and that Soliz "tripped out" in a motel room later that day, recalling Weatherly's shooting.

The woman was with Soliz in a stolen car when they were arrested that day after a police chase. She said Soliz threatened to "take out one of the laws or take himself out," but the gun fell and he ran instead after their car crashed into a parked 18-wheeler.

Ramos was in another vehicle and was also arrested.

Tough questioning

Under persistent questioning by defense attorney Mike Heiskell, the woman acknowledged at one point that she was "confused" about the chronology of events and that her memory was "not really" that good because of the drugs she was doing at the time.

She also admitted that she was angry with Soliz after she overheard him "dissing" -- disrespecting -- her to police and calling her names.

She acknowledged having feelings for Ramos -- "cutting" for him. Both men apparently wrote her letters from jail expressing affection for her.

Heiskell suggested during questioning that she was testifying against Soliz to protect Ramos -- an allegation she denied.

"I'm going to do my best to tell the truth," she said.

The woman was initially given deferred-adjudication probation for two outstanding misdemeanors, but she violated the terms of her probation.

She now has been charged with participating in the theft of a handgun and has not worked out a plea deal with prosecutors on that charge.

Dianna Hunt, 817-390-7084

Twitter: @DiannaHunt