Jury hears police interrogation of alleged cop killer
In a halting, often vague and sometimes inaudible recording of his interrogation in 2013 by San Antonio police, capital murder suspect Shawn Ruiz Puente appears to confess to armed robbery and firing at various law enforcement personnel during a multi-county chase that ended in the shooting of an officer.
Puente seemed to cry early in the interrogation after blurting out, “I didn’t mean to. … I do feel sorry,” while being questioned by SAPD Sgt. Raul Cardenas just a few hours after officer Robert Deckard was shot on the morning of Dec. 8 off Interstate 37 in Atascosa County.
Deckard, 31, died about two weeks later.
Puente and his alleged accomplice, Jenevieve Ramos, 28, were apprehended after a brief second shoot-out with officers in an open field near Poth in Wilson County.
Most in the Jourdanton courtroom, including the judge, strained to hear Puente, then 32, on a digital recording that showed him slumped in a chair in the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, slurring his speech and seemingly under the influence of the drugs to which his defense attorneys said he was addicted.
In a pre-trial motion, defense attorney Anna Jimenez asked State District Judge Donna Rayes to suppress the interrogation, but Rayes denied the motion.
Puente tells Cardenas during the 90-minute interrogation that he did shoot a 9mm Ruger semi-automatic pistol at officers who had pursued him from downtown San Antonio, where he and Ramos were allegedly caught on tape robbing a convenience store on San Pedro Avenue.
“It’s bad,” says Puente. “This is bad.”
Cardenas asks if he shot at the officers because he was afraid of being caught with drugs in their Mitsubishi Lancer.
“Scared, I guess,” says Puente.
“How many times did you shoot?” asks the 24-year veteran homicide officer.
“Maybe once,” replies Puente, whose attorney conceded in her opening remarks to the jury that Deckard was killed by a single shot to the forehead, “a one in a million shot” fired backwards from the Lancer during a chase that at times reached 115 mph on I-37.
Jimenez, part of a five-person team of public defenders hired by Atascosa County to defend indigent clients, hammered Cardenas about his interrogation, accusing him of jumping around from different crime locations in the questioning. She suggested that Puente was clearly under the influence of drugs some nine hours after Deckard was shot and could not intelligently waive his Miranda rights against self-incrimination.
“Puente has no idea which officer you’re talking about, isn’t that true?” Jimenez grilled Cardenas.
“That was not my perception,” said Cardenas. “I think he knew that the officer (near Poth) was still alive, so the only officer we could be talking about would be Deckard.”
Cardenas countered that Puente never asked him to stop the interview, after reading him his rights, and that Puente was well aware he was being questioned about the death of a police officer, not simply a robbery or merely firing at some officers near Poth.
In a somewhat unusual move, Judge Rayes allowed the jury to read from a prosecution-produced transcript of the interrogation — though the defense agreed to this — yet the transcript was not admitted into evidence. Copies of it were taken from the jurors when they finished the day, and reporters were not allowed to see it.
The defense never suggested any impropriety by the judge or prosecution, but clearly wanted the whole interrogation tape to be tossed. They lost.
The trial continues Thursday in the Atascosa County Courthouse in Jourdanton, with the defense expected to begin its case by the end of the week.
Bruce Selcraig is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. | BSelcraig@express-news.net