Emotions run high during intense testimony in murder trial - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |


Emotions run high during intense testimony in murder trial

WACO, TX (KXXV) - Some hardball questioning by the prosecution during the sentencing phase of Carnell Petetan Jr. trial led to some near fireworks by the defense. Petetan, who faces the death penalty for murdering his wife, sat stoic for most of the day as witnesses came up to testify against him, but that all changed as his mother spoke Wednesday afternoon.

After the prosecution rested just before 11 a.m., it was the defense's turn to call up witnesses. Petetan's attorney's stressed to the jury that they were about to "hear the rest of the story," and understand why they believe Petetan has a mental disability.

Petetan's mother, Ofielia Ortiz, was the first person called to the stand. She says she had to give Petetan extra attention as a child because she claims he was mentally retarded. She says he was slow and couldn't tie his shoes, dress himself or take a bath. She also claimed he had a bed wetting problem and she didn't know if he ever stopped.

As prosecutors cross-examined Petetan's mother and questioned her thoughts about her son, Petetan became noticeably agitated and began whispering in his attorney's ear. At one point during Ortiz's testimony, Judge Ralph Strother interrupted and asked the jury to leave the courtroom so he could talk to Petetan.

The judge told Petetan to check his attitude, and if his behavior were to continue he would be removed. From that point on Petetan sat and listened as his sister, aunt, uncle, and cousins spoke about his character and mental disabilities.

Earlier in the day, the prosecution brought in four more TDCJ officers to speak about encounters they had with Petetan in the past. One officer said he witness Petetan holding a cell mate in a headlock and covered in his cell mate's blood. Another said she was hit in the head by an unknown liquid by Petetan.

Two other officers say they felt very uncomfortable around Petetan when they first met him. One officer claimed that Petetan asked him to be his boyfriend. Another says Petetan told him he was going to kill him as he searched his cell.

Prosecutors also brought in Petetan's former elementary school assistant principal from Port Arthur. He said he would meet with Petetan regularly because Petetan refused to follow the rules. He claimed that Petetan was not stupid, and knew what he was doing when he got into trouble.

Two former cell mates of Petetan and another former inmate talked to the jury as well. All three men claimed to have been sexually assaulted while in prison by Petetan. They all said because of their short and weak stature, Petetan took advantage of them and threatened them to have sex with him or else he would hurt them or in some cases kill them.

The defense is expected to bring in more witnesses when the trial resumes Thursday morning.
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