Jury deliberating cop killer’s sentence
JOURDANTON — District Attorney Audrey Louis told an Atascosa County jury this morning that convicted cop killer Shaun Puente, despite a childhood of abject poverty, abuse and neglect on San Antonio’s West Side, was a remorseless serial criminal who deserved to die for killing San Antonio Police Department officer Robert Deckard in 2013.
Having convicted Puente, 36, last month for capital murder, for which he faces death by lethal injection or life in prison without parole, the jury left shortly after noon to deliberate his punishment after five weeks of testimony.
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Louis scorned defense lawyers’ claims that conditions such as low testosterone, lead paint poisoning, post traumatic stress disorder, parental beatings, failing schools, childhood hunger and methamphetamine addiction could ever mitigate his responsibility for shooting at Deckard’s SAPD Chevy Tahoe 36 times with a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol during a highway chase on Interstate 37 early on Dec. 8, 2013.
“It’s always someone else’s fault for Shaun Puente,” said Louis, the district attorney for Atascosa and four adjoining counties. “All his teachers were wrong, he was bipolar, he was anti-social, he had depression, he was poor ... That’s insulting. Saying this all happened because he grew up on the West Side is offensive to (the thousands) who grew up there and go to work every day.”
Defense attorney Gary Taylor told the jury that while the litany of Puente’s psychological and social problems could never excuse a police officer’s death, they should consider sparing his life, questioning what amount of abuse any person could take without committing criminal acts.
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“Whatever verdict you choose,” said Taylor, a former Methodist youth pastor in Austin before becoming a lawyer, “Shaun Puente is going to die in prison. One verdict simply hastens that death.”
“Imagine this man as a boy being choked (by an adult male in the family) until he passed out, or having to listen to his mother having her head slammed against the wall,” Taylor said.
The Jourdanton courtroom was packed with SAPD officers and extended members and friends of the Deckard and Puente families.
Bruce Selcraig is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. | BSelcraig@express-news.net