For months, the two Texas brothers had been fighting — sometimes physically — over the home they had inherited from their parents, San Antonio prosecutors said.
That fighting ultimately led Andres Barrera, 46, to have his brother legally evicted from the home in the summer of 2016, prosecutors said. But about a month later, Andres Barrera went missing, KSAT reports — and his remains eventually turned up buried in a shallow, sandy grave among the dunes of Padre Island National Seashore on Sept. 25, police said.
Just days after the remains were found, police arrested Gregorio Barrera, Andres’ 50-year-old brother, on suspicion of murder. And two years later, after a weeklong trial, a San Antonio jury found Gregorio Barrera guilty Wednesday in Andres' death, KSAT reports. He is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, and faces up to life in prison.
Evidence inside the inherited house helped point police to Gregorio Barrera as a suspect in his brother’s death, police testified at the trial. Jurors were shown a video of the bloody walls, ceiling and ceiling fan blades in the home, which the brothers were supposedly in the process of fixing up together, the San Antonio Express-News reports. Bloody pieces of wood also turned up in a garbage can — and the blood belonged to Andres, DNA testing revealed. Gregorio told Rachel Barnes, a San Antonio detective, that he wasn’t sure where the blood had come from, but he mentioned that he had recently gotten cut while renovating the home.
“The blood in the house is very strange. It’s sprayed on the walls, blood on the ceiling,” Barnes tells Barrera in video that was shown at trial. “There’s a pretty good chance something happened, something significant.”
An oil field worker exploring the dunes with his son stumbled upon the remains on Sept. 25, 2016, and initially thought it was a deer carcass, he testified at the trial. But as Eric Mouton got closer, he saw that it was a human body and called 911, the Express-News reports. A local medical examiner said the cause of death was homicidal violence, suggesting that a fractured skull and plastic found on the corpse’s neck were what killed Andres. He had been dead for weeks, the examiner said.
Gregorio had lived at the fought-over home with his mother until her death in 2014, his sisters testified in court. After the mother died, Gregorio kept living at the house with his six dogs and some friends, though Andres was paying the mortgage at the home, the sisters said. Gregorio was eventually evicted by his brother, the Express-News reports.
Police began investigating Andres’ disappearance Sept. 12, 2016, when his sister reported him missing, KENS reports. His apartment had been ransacked, police said. Further investigation revealed that Gregorio had used Andres’ credit cards to purchase a lawn trimmer and new clothing, police said. Gregorio told police he had Andres’ permission to buy the items, but he said his brother didn’t go into the store with him.
Police also found sandy sneakers and a sandy shovel at the home that had sparked the dispute, the Express-News reports. The sand had come from a beach, and DNA from the shoes matched Gregorio, police said.
Detectives testified that Gregorio’s story about when he’d last seen his brother alive kept changing as they spoke to him, WOAI reports.
Gregorio Barrera’s defense attorney, Cornelius Cox, told jurors that the evidence put forward against his client was circumstantial — and that it left room for doubt, KSAT reports: “Why not bring you the proof and the evidence so you don’t have reasonable doubt?” Cox asked in his closing argument.