A Houston judge on Friday sentenced the wheelman in a drive-by shooting that killed a retired police officer to 10 years of probation after a deal was struck with prosecutors for his cooperation.
State District Judge Susan Brown could have sentenced Raziel Jesus Munoz, 23, to a maximum of 15 years in prison after he agreed to testify against two co-defendants in the shooting that killed 78-year-old Velia “Belle” Ortega, who had been the Houston Police Department's first Hispanic female officer.
Instead, Brown sentenced Munoz to 10 years of deferred adjudication on a charge of felony murder, which means he would not have a conviction on his record if he completes probation.
At first it seemed quite incongruous that in Texas such a light sentence could be issued for such a serious crime. What do you think? Was the prosecution's case too weak to make convictions without Munoz' cooperation? Is anything Munoz says to be considered credible since he's gaining so much by saying it?
I love to read into these things, so tell me how this works for you. First of all, the victim was Hispanic and in Texas everyone knows they don't count quite as much as your regular white folks. Secondly, everyone involved in this messy case knows the chances of Munoz completing his probation without any additional criminal arrests are about zero. The results being, he'll be doing life along with his buddies sooner or later anyway.
The problems are two. Raziel Jesus Munoz should probably be taken off the streets now and not later after someone else dies. And, when he does eventually go to prison, it will really be a death sentence for having ratted on his partners.
What's your opinion? Do you think I'm reading too much into the case? How do you see it?
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