HOUMA, La. – A jury has convicted a 36-year-old Houma man of stabbing another man to death with a pool cue.
The Courier reports the panel spent an hour untangling conflicting testimony given by witnesses who saw Walter Rosario attack 33-year-old Antonio Aguado Jr. on Sept. 18, 2016 at the Las Amigas Latinas bar in Houma. The jury found Rosario guilty Wednesday of second-degree murder.
Rosario dropped his head and cried after the verdict was read.
Terrebonne Parish Deputy Coroner Charles Ledoux told the jury the size and shape of the wound, which was near Aguado's ear, was consistent with a pool cue and that the object went nearly halfway through his head.
Some witnesses testified they saw Rosario thrust the pool cue into Aguado's head in an unprovoked attack, while others said the victim instigated a fight.
The trouble began after Aguado arrived with a group of friends and gathered near a table where Rosario's girlfriend, Katherine Bautista, was sitting, according to witness testimony. Bautista testified Aguado was harassing her by staring at her and trying to get her to drink with him. Others said he had only said "cheers" to her.
Multiple witnesses said Aguado appeared drunk, and a toxicology report found his blood alcohol concentration was .237.
Rosario told jurors he went over to talk to Aguado and asked him to not disrespect Bautista, who he refers to as his wife. The men then shook hands, he said.
When he went back to the pool table, Rosario said, Aguado rushed at him with a raised fist. He testified he only tried to block the hit and defend himself. However, others said Rosario thrust the pool cue at Aguado as the victim was leaving.
"I didn't have the intention to hurt (anyone)," Rosario said through a Spanish-speaking translator. "I didn't know he was going to die."
Rosario surrendered to police the next day, authorities said. They found half of a broken pool cue at the scene, but the pointed end was never recovered.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Erny questioned Rosario, who worked as a police officer in Puerto Rico before moving to Louisiana, about the baton and defensive tactics training he had undergone in his former job.
Erny presented a chart, which Rosario indicated was similar to one he had seen while training. It showed the level of trauma someone could experience when struck across different sections of the body. Several areas, including the spinal cord, the neck and the head, were marked in red to indicate a hit in those areas could lead to serious injury or death.
Erny asked Rosario when, under his training guidelines, an officer would strike someone on the red areas of the body.
"At no time," he replied through the translator.
Erny argued Rosario had used deadly force when it wasn't necessary.
"Training causes muscle memory," Erny said during his closing argument. "He's dealt with drunk people before. He never killed anyone before. Why now? Because he wanted to."
Rosario's lawyer, Timothy Ellender Jr., contended it was a reflexive act to preserve his life.
"It was completely instinctive, defensive and — quite frankly — without any thought at all," he said.
Ellender said he plans to file an appeal.
Second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence in Louisiana, with no possibility of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.
"It's a harsh verdict," Erny said after the trial. "But I think it's a fair verdict."
Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com