Fort Worth

He beat them and poured drain cleaner on them to make sure they were dead. One survived.

Miguel Angel Hernandez, 32, is on trial for capital murder strangulation death of a Fort Worth man.
Miguel Angel Hernandez, 32, is on trial for capital murder strangulation death of a Fort Worth man. jlmarshall@star-telegram.com

This report contains graphic material.

Police found Miguel Hernandez naked and covered in blood on the night he is accused of strangling a man to death, then beating and disfiguring another, Tarrant County prosecutor Tiffany Burks said during opening statements at his capital murder trial Tuesday.

Hernandez, 32, is accused 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.

After his arrest, Hernandez “kept saying over and over that he’s working for the dark prince. Every square inch of his body was covered in blood,” officer Chris McAnulty of the Fort Worth Police Department testified Tuesday.

The defense is arguing that Hernandez is not guilty of capital murder by reason of insanity. The Tarrant County district attorney’s office is seeking the death penalty.

Before the burglary, Hernandez had sought a house in the darkest part of the neighborhood in west Fort Worth, in the 2900 block of Cortez Drive, and taken off all his clothing to cover whatever light was coming from the home where Bowling lived with Don Keaton, 82, Burks said.

Hernandez is believed to have come in through a window, surprising Bowling and Keaton, according to police.

When Keaton confronted him, Hernandez beat and then poured what he believed to be acid in his face to make sure he was dead, police said. Police found a partially empty bottle of drain cleaner in the hallway.

Officers found both men on the floor. Keaton was screaming and both were covered in blood and drain cleaner. Keaton, who had been beaten, had called 911 while Bowling was being strangled, Burks said.

The master bedroom had been ransacked; items were removed from dresser drawers and dumped on the floor. Bloodstained money littered the floor, and more was found inside and outside Hernandez’s pickup.

After the crime Hernandez didn’t run or hide, said his defense attorney, Brian Salavant. Hernandez both lay in the bed and sat on the couch in the home.

He stabbed himself in the leg while the police were coming to arrest him, Salvant said, but there was no struggle.

“I asked him what kind of drugs he was on and he replied: ‘The best ones ever,’ ” McAnulty testified.

Hernandez, a registered sex offender, claims that he went to Bowling’s home to meet a woman promised to him by his prince, Salvant said during his opening statement.

Hernandez had been given anti-psychotic medications at John Peter Smith Hospital the month before Bowling’s death, Salvant said.

“Then we fast-forward to July when, for some reason, my client starts hearing voices from the devil,” Salvant said. “But he doesn’t say they are from the devil. He calls him his prince.”

If a defendant is suffering from a severe mental illness and does not know right from wrong, he has to be found not guilty, Salvant said.

“We can try to make sense of an insane act, but we can’t,” Salvant said. “We can’t make sense of it because it’s insane.”

Fort Worth Police and the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office are looking for these 10 fugitives. Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest. Call 817-469-8477.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

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