Things That Matter

Texas Man Convicted For Beheading His Sleeping Roommate And Killing Roommate’s Girlfriend

After spending more than five hours deliberating on the verdict, a Texas jury has found Hector “El Cholo” Acosta-Ojeda guilty of capital murder for the killings of Erick ‘Diablo’ Zelaya, 26, and Iris Chirinos, 17. Prosecutors said Acosta-Ojeda shot his roommate, Zelaya, twice in the head while he slept. He then used a machete to behead Zelaya and left his severed head on a trail near Arlington, Texas’s AT&T Stadium. Zelaya’s girlfriend, Chirinos tried to flee the scene of the gruesome murder, but Acosta-Ojeda fatally shot her. 

Acosta-Ojeda, 30, pleaded not guilty to the crime and did not take the stand.

Credit: @deannaboyd / Twitter

In closing arguments, Acosta-Ojeda’s defense attorneys, Bill Ray and Gary Smart, told the jury that no weapon was linked to Acosta-Ojeda. They argued that the presence of so many other people in the house leaves room for reasonable doubt. They also argued that authorities did not offer a proper reading of Acosta-Ojeda’s Miranda rights, which tell a person under arrest that they have the “right to remain silent” and that, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” By that waive of rights, any confession Acosta-Ojeda made was nullified. 

Still, The Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney (ADA), Kevin Rousseau, argued, “He confessed to every single aspect of this case,” according to the Star-Telegram.

Prosecutors argued that the motive was linked to another shooting, which occurred in May 2017.

Credit: @miguelgomeztv / Twitter

In a series of strange events, Acosta-Ojeda’s home was targeted by gunmen while he and others were sleeping. Moments later, Zelaya and young Chirinos arrived, laughing. The very next day, someone burned down Acosta-Ojeda’s home. ADA Rousseau learned that Zelaya had confessed to being a part of the shooting just hours before Acosta-Ojeda executed him in his sleep.

After Acosta-Ojeda killed the couple, he buried them in a shallow grave in the backyard, but not before he beheaded Zelaya with a machete. He put the head in a trash bag, made a sign, and rode his bicycle, with a severed head in hand, to what was left of his home. There, he left his friend’s severed head along with a sign that read, “La Raza Se Resreta y Faltan 4,” which roughly means, ‘the race, or group, must be respected and only four remain.”

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, which will be determined in a sentencing hearing Wednesday.

Credit: Iris Gomez / Facebook

While her family has yet to speak out about the incident, friends have posted to her Facebook page, saying “God rest your soul. Prayers to your family.. god sees your true beauty, he will judge the criminal that did this to you… RIP.” Folks continue to post to her page, years later, with thoughts like, “I miss you babygirl. RIP,” and “Missing you like crazy, love you lil sis.”

If the jury doesn’t reach a unanimous decision on capital punishment, Acosta-Ojeda will receive mandatory minimum sentencing of life imprisonment without parole.

Members of the alt-right have tried to use the story to further anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Credit: @TEEITHIGH / Twitter

“Look at the face of the people crossing our border every day to seek that better life. Why behead in Mexico when you can behead in America?” tweets Clayton Freeman. “Democrats want people like this in America!
SIC,” tweeted another woman. A Facebook post sharing the news on the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office page had just one comment: “Hang him!”

Acosta-Ojeda is implicated in another murder case that opened just one month after he killed Zelaya and Chirinos. 

Credit: Triston Algiene / Facebook

Acosta-Ojeda is accused of robbing and murdering 34-year-old Triston Ray Algiene. In October 2017, Algiene’s mutilated body was found, cut in half, and buried in concrete in the foundation of a vacant home. Another man, Felipe Eduardo Ortiz, is also accused in the murder. The two had been renting rooms in the house they chose to bury the body under. Authorities suspect that Ortiz and Acosta-Ojeda had set up the meeting with Algiene to appear as a drug deal, but planned to rob and murder him. According to a report last year, Algiene was then tied with duct tape and rope and beaten into giving the PIN number to his debit card. Now-deceased Zelaya and Chirinos allegedly were tasked with withdrawing money from the ATM. They called Acosta-Ojeda, who allegedly got angry and killed Algiene. They dug a hole in the bedroom, sawed Algiene’s body in half, and covered it up. By the time investigators arrived, the house had been remodeled and up for sale. 

READ: The Murder of a Teen Mom By Her Boyfriend is Raising a Discussion Around the Prevalence of Femicide in Abusive Relationships

Terrifying Moment Caught On Camera When A White Woman Pulls A Gun On A Black Woman In A Parking Lot

Things That Matter

Terrifying Moment Caught On Camera When A White Woman Pulls A Gun On A Black Woman In A Parking Lot

Takelia Shanee / Facebook

A disturbing video is going viral on social media. A Black Michigan mom stared down the barrel of a gun pointed by an angry white woman in a parking lot. The video is the latest example of Black Americans being violently targeted by white people.

Takelia Hill shared a video on Facebook of a terrifying encounter in a parking lot.

Posted by Takelia Shanee on Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The video starts with the image of a white woman holding a gun with fear and anger as she yells at Hill. The woman claims that Hill tried to jump behind her minivan and she was leaving the parking lot. Hill can be heard arguing with the woman refuting her claims that Hill was somehow the aggressor of the out of control and dangerous situation.

A Twitter version of the video, shared by someone identifying as a relative, has been viewed more than 11 million times on Thursday.

Hill’s daughter was recording the confrontation after the woman bumped into her.

According to The Detroit News, the argument began because the white woman bumped into Hill’s daughter and didn’t apologize. The argument escalated quickly when the Hill was almost hit with the minivan as the white couple started to drive. Hill hit the car and the white woman jumped out of the car and drew her gun.

The woman was arrested but released, according to a woman identifying as a close family member.

The police have not confirmed the information tweeted by the family member. The video is sparking outrage in the area of Auburn Hills, Michigan.

“I am deeply disturbed by an incident last night where a woman pointed a cocked gun at another woman during an argument,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said in a statement, according to The Detroit News. “This behavior is unacceptable. I wholly expect the prosecutor to bring charges that reflect the severity of the incident.”

People in social media are angry after seeing the video and are offering advice on how the family should move forward.

One state senator is calling for action on gun reform in Michigan after the video. Fortunately, Hill and her daughter survived the encounter but the trauma of living through that is taxing.

“Michigan needs commonsense gun reform, and we need it now. People should feel safe going about their day and not have to worry about having a gun pulled on them during a conflict,” state Sen. Rosemary Baye told The Detroit News. “This incident clearly shows we have much work to do because this is not how we should be treating each other.”

READ: People Are Using Social Media to Highlight Racism On The Islands

Man Posts Plea For People To Social Distance After Falling Ill Of COVID-19 And Died The Next Day

Things That Matter

Man Posts Plea For People To Social Distance After Falling Ill Of COVID-19 And Died The Next Day

Tommy Macias / Facebook

The world is still in the midst of a deadly viral pandemic. COVID-19 is not going away on its own and there are things that people can do to slow the spread. One of the most effective tools is wearing a mask followed up by social distancing. One man thought he could ease up and contracted the virus. Here is his warning.

A man known as Tommy Macias died one day after warning people about the dangers of COVID-19.

Credit: Tommy Macias / Facebook

Macias died the next day after posting this message on Facebook warning his friends and family about the dangers of COVID-19. According to the man’s post, he attended a party and contracted the virus there. Health experts have warned against gathering with friends and family right now. Parties have become some of the most infectious sites leading to the current outbreaks across the country.

Macias’s Facebook post touches on a point that drives home the importance of wearing face masks. After being exposed, he then exposed his entire family because he ignored health regulations.

The man’s death from COVID-19 has created a fear among his friends.

“Don’t take advantage of the unknown, don’t expect things to be fine. Take this shit seriously,” @flawlessbikerzcordova wrote on Instagram. “I had been diligent about wearing my mask but from time to time loosen up around the crew and friends. Not anymore!”

The U.S. is seeing a spike in cases across several states and cases are increasing in 35 states. The U.S. has seen record infection numbers in recent days and that trend is mirrored in Calfornia where the sudden reopening of the economy led to a runaway outbreak in the state.

Macias is now one of the more than 127,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19.

According to NBC News, the Riverside County Office of Vital Records confirmed that Macias did die from COVID-19. According to Macias’s brother-in-law, Macias was diligent about wearing his mask and following health regulations. However, when California Governor Gavin Newsom signaled rapid reopening within weeks in June, Macias felt safe letting down his guard.

“He was quarantining because he was overweight and had diabetes,” Lopez told NBC News in explaining how careful Macias has been.

Macias’s death is a warning to Americans.

As the quarantining drags on due to reopening reversals, fatigue is setting in with Americans about self-isolation. With a holiday weekend underway, Macias’s message is a warning call to Americans as social distancing is forgotten and people argue over masks.

Health experts continue to stress the importance of wearing face masks when out in public and to stay away from indoor gatherings with friends, like parties. It might be uncomfortable and you might not like it but it is what we need to do to get back this virus.

Please stay safe, smart, and follow health guidelines this 4th of July weekend.

READ: #TheWorldReopenedAnd Is Highlighting All The Ways We Are Failing In Our Response To COVID-19