Crime

Arlington man shot roommate multiple times then beheaded him, prosecutor says

A man shot his roommate multiple times in the head before he beheaded him at a house in Arlington in September 2017, a prosecutor told a jury on Tuesday morning.

Hector Acosta fired two shots into the head of his roommate while he was asleep because the victim had confessed to being one of the gunmen who had shot at Acosta’s home in May 2017, Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Rousseau said.

The murder victim, Erick Zelaya, told Acosta that he had been involved in the shooting just days before the gruesome killing, Rousseau said. Acosta also is accused of killing Zelaya’s 17-year-old girlfriend as she tried to run away.

“These are no longer allegations; they are facts,” Rousseau said in his opening statement in Acosta’s capital murder trial Tuesday.

Defense attorneys did not make an opening statement.

Rousseau also told the jury that Acosta had confessed to Arlington detectives that he committed the killings.

Within minutes into the trial, prosecutors presented photographs of the severed head and sign that were found on a trail near AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the 30-year-old Arlington man, who is accused of killing Erick “Diablo” Zelaya in 2017, severing his head and then shooting to death the victim’s 17-year-old girlfriend, Iris Chirinos.

Acosta is charged with capital murder in those Arlington deaths as well as the robbery and killing of Triston Ray Algiene in July 2017 in Fort Worth.

Acosta and another man, Felipe Eduardo Ortiz, are charged with Algiene’s murder. Algiene’s body — cut in half and concealed under a repair patch in a home’s foundation — was found Oct. 3, 2017, inside a vacant home in the 6400 block of Woodway Drive in southwest Fort Worth.

In his opening statement, Rousseau told the jury the Arlington case began in May 2017 in an Arlington home where Acosta and other men lived.

Early one morning, as Acosta and others slept, gunmen opened fire on the home, injuring one person.

Rousseau noted that Zelaya and his girlfriend showed up after the shooting, and they seemed to be laughing. At that time, Zelaya and Acosta knew each other.

The day after the shooting, the house where the suspect had been living burned down.

For most of the summer of 2017, Acosta stayed with Zelaya.

“During that time, he (Acosta) heard rumors that Erick Zelaya was involved in shooting up his home,” Rousseau said. “It ate at him.”

Acosta confronted Zelaya about the shooting and Zelaya admitted to being one of the shooters, according to the prosecution.

“From then on, he (Acosta) planned to kill him,” Rousseau said.

That killing took place in September 2017 in an Arlington home where Acosta and Zelaya had been living. The shooting began when Zelaya and his girlfriend were asleep.

After fatally shooting them, Acosta allegedly went to the backyard and dug a shallow grave.

“He then picked up a machete and cut off Erick Zelaya’s head and placed it in a trash bag. He also made a sign,” Rousseau said. “He then grabbed the bag and sign, got on a bicycle and rode to a location near where his home had been burned down.”

He left Zelaya’s severed head near a man-made walking trail not far from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, authorities said.

Near the head, Arlington police found the sign written in Spanish that read,”La Raza Se Resreta y Faltan 4,” which loosely translated appears to mean, “The race, or group, must be respected and there’s only four left.”

The bodies of Zelaya and his girlfriend were later found in the grave.

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