By JESSIE HORTON
STEPHENVILLE (October 13, 2015) — Juan Reyes, who has been charged with the murder of Keith Lynn Wood and hiding his body, pled not guilty before an Erath County jury Tuesday afternoon, saying through his attorney, Andrew Ottaway, that Wood was killed in self-defense.
With the jury seated just after 1 p.m., Reyes entered his plea and the jury of ten men and two women heard from witnesses including investigators involved in the case. According to the evidence presented by Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash, Reyes shot Wood on October 7, 2013, out of anger and because he felt disrespected by Wood.
During the first day of trial, Nash called Stephenville PD Narcotics Investigator Russell Ford to the stand, asking him to explain to the jury the basics of the the case and how the investigation and interview went. Ford said another officer got a tip that there was a deceased person in a house on Belmont Street in Stephenville. Nash also showed the jury video footage of the Reyes interview before recessing for the day.
According to evidence presented by Nash, Reyes shot and killed Wood on Oct. 7, 2013. Later, he and Juan Maldonado loaded the body in a vehicle that Reyes took to Proctor where he buried Wood’s body in a shallow grave on an old family farm before using a plasma cutter to dispose of the 9mm Smith & Wesson used in the murder.
In November 2013, Reyes was arrested by Comanche Police Officers after a search warrant was served on his home and he was found in his cousin’s Dodge pickup in Comanche. He was transported to Stephenville by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office where he was interviewed by Ford and Orlando Gaitan, both with Stephenville PD.
At that time, Reyes first said he didn’t know Wood at all, but later admitted Wood had come to the house where he and his cousin, Maldonado, lived on Belmont Street in Stephenville. He told officers at the time of the interview that Wood was argumentative and upset because he believed Maldonado was in a relationship with Wood’s girlfriend.
Reyes said Wood acted superior to Reyes because Wood was white and attempted to slap or hit Reyes and he accidentally shot and killed Wood when he was struck. Later, Reyes said he had to protect himself and his girlfriend, who was also at the residence at the time of the incident.
“It was never my attention to hurt anyone. He hit me, he attacked me. I told him to come back tomorrow when he was sober and he told me if he came back when he was sober he’d kill me. He slapped me and I just shot him and he just fell,” said Reyes in the taped interview on November 14, 2013. “You’ll never find him (Wood), I’m the only one who knows where he’s buried out there. He’s alright… No one deserves to be shot like that, it was a mistake, but he was threatening me, he was threatening my family and now everyone’s gonna hate me. It was a mistake but I couldn’t let him threaten my family, I couldn’t let him hurt them.”
Nash presented evidence that Reyes changed his story several times during the investigation. He also presented video of Reyes telling investigators that only he knew where Wood’s body was buried and that no one would ever find the body.
After court on day one, Nash said, “Everything is going according to plan through the first witness.”
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in the Erath County Courthouse Annex with continuation of Nash’s case before hearing from the defense.