Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 23, 2014

Man guilty of ‘execution-style’ murder

Jury fails to believe killer’s ‘self-defense’ claim

TAHLEQUAH — Jurors on Thursday failed to buy into a killer’s claim he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot his brother-in-law at a home on Basin in June 2013, and instead found him guilty of first-degree murder.

It took two hours Thursday night for jurors to return their guilty verdict and recommend a life sentence for 30-year-old Juan Carlos Caballero.

Jurors also found Caballero guilty of possession of a controlled dangerous substance and recommended he receive seven years for that charge.

Caballero – who appeared upbeat during most of the trial, often smiling at others and carrying out casual conversations about religion and other matters during breaks in testimony – lowered his eyes as the verdict was read Thursday at about 8:30 p.m.

District Judge Darrell Shepherd set formal sentencing for June 30 at 9 a.m. and ordered a pre-sentence investigation.

Caballero’s defense attorney, Angie Jones, urged jurors earlier on Thursday to consider testimony that suggested Caballero was fearful of his brother-in-law, 35-year-old Carlos Manuel Ulloa-Redondo, and that Redondo had been “provoking” Caballero before the shooting.

She picked apart the investigation into Redondo’s death, calling into question Tahlequah Detective Chris Boals’ work after he responded June 23, 2013, to investigate.

“Detective Boals made up his mind about what happened from the get-go, and he had tunnel vision” for the rest of the investigation, Jones told jurors.

She said Boals spoke to only three eye witnesses and for only a short time – about 20 minutes during one meeting – and interviewed them all together, rather than separately. She said officers never spoke at length with other neighbors about the shooting.

She also criticized Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Crime Scene Agent Brad Green and other officers who failed to find a 9mm pistol and 38-caliber revolver that had been placed under a shower in the home where Redondo was killed.

The guns were found several months later by a man who had been asked to spray the house for roaches.

“A man spraying for bugs finds these two guns, that apparently 20 to 30 Tahlequah police officers couldn’t find,” Jones said.

She suggested investigators’ inability to find the guns or to conduct a thorough search was a “prime example of the whole investigation,” and questioned what investigators might have missed “because it would take a little bit of effort.”

“Don’t guess [Caballero] into the penitentiary,” Jones told jurors, telling them prosecutors’ ideas that Caballero shot Redondo after a confrontation with neighbors over loud music made “absolutely no sense at all.”

“He acted in self-defense,” Jones said of Caballero.

First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp told jurors the testimony and evidence presented during the trial was never about self-defense or manslaughter – two options jurors could have chosen rather than first-degree murder.

“Self-defense is not shooting a human being five times,” Thorp said.

“Or [shooting] twice, running out of ammo ... then going and getting another gun and then firing three more bullets. ... Five rounds [is] pretty good evidence you intend to take a life – even more so when you use two different guns.”

Thorp told jurors Caballero killed Redondo “execution style” with four shots to the body and a fifth, close-contact shot to Redondo’s head.

“An execution killing in Cherokee County, Oklahoma, is certainly worth life without parole,” Thorp told jurors before their deliberations began.

“The person that pulled the trigger, the person that put [Redondo] down, was [Caballero].”

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

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