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Texas man accused of beheading roommate sentenced to death

November 14, 2019 GMT
This undated photo provided by the Tarrant County Jail shows Hector Acosta-Ojeda. A jury has found the North Texas man guilty of capital murder in the fatal shooting and beheading of his roommate and fatal shooting of the roommate's 17-year-old girlfriend as she tried to flee. (Tarrant County Jail via AP)
This undated photo provided by the Tarrant County Jail shows Hector Acosta-Ojeda. A jury has found the North Texas man guilty of capital murder in the fatal shooting and beheading of his roommate and fatal shooting of the roommate's 17-year-old girlfriend as she tried to flee. (Tarrant County Jail via AP)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A Texas man was sentenced to death for the 2017 slayings of his roommate, who was beheaded, and the roommate’s 17-year-old girlfriend.

A jury Wednesday sentenced Hector Acosta-Ojeda, who prosecutors said was a self-proclaimed hit man for a Mexican drug cartel. Acosta-Ojeda was found guilty last week of capital murder in the killings in Arlington of Erick Zelaya and Iris Chirinos.

Prosecutors say Acosta-Ojeda shot them and then mutilated their bodies before placing them in a shallow grave in his backyard and leaving Zelaya’s head on a nearby walking trail.

Defense attorneys asked for a life sentence, saying Acosta-Ojeda grew up surrounded by violence and a brain injury may have affected him.

Prosecutors say Acosta-Ojeda called the killings retribution for a past drive-by shooting he believed Zelaya participated in.