The 17-year-old arrested in the violent beating death of an El Paso police officer last month is now charged with capital murder, court records show.
A state district court grand jury indicted Juan Antonio Gonzalez on Tuesday in connection with the brutal beating of Officer Jonathan Molina, 29, on Sept. 25 on a Central El Paso street. Molina died nine days after the attack.
Because of his age, Gonzalez is not eligible for the death penalty. If convicted, he faces an automatic lifetime prison sentence.
According to complaint affidavits filed by homicide detectives, Molina saw a young man use a key to scratch his silver Pontiac Grand Prix in the early evening of Sept. 25 as the teens were walking on a sidewalk on Trowbridge Drive.
Molina got into his car, drove to where the teenagers were and parked at the curb in the 4100 block of Trowbridge Drive to confront the boys about the vandalism. The affidavits state Molina identified himself as a police officer and was acting in his capacity as a police officer even though he was not in uniform. Sometime during the confrontation, Molina asked a bystander to call 911.
While Molina was talking, Gonzalez "struck the victim on the face and then grabbed his legs and threw him to the concrete. (Gonzalez) then got on top of the victim and continued to punch him in the face," the document states.
Police said that Molina was knocked unconscious when his head hit the ground, and that Gonzalez continued the assault despite Molina's being unable to defend himself. Gonzalez ran off when witnesses went to help Molina, who was taken by ambulance to a hospital in critical condition.
Officers searching the area for Molina's assailants found Gonzalez a short distance away near an apartment complex where Gonzalez lived and arrested him. Juan Antonio Gomez, who was with Gonzalez and another man during the attack, allegedly admitted to police that he scratched Molina's car and had been confronted by Molina, who pushed Gonzalez away sometime during the confrontation.
In reaction to being pushed, Gonzalez allegedly punched Molina in the face with his fist, stunning the officer.
According to court documents, Molina suffered a fractured skull, internal head injuries and multiple facial fractures. Investigators also found that Molina's car had scratches on the right side, the hood and the rear bumper.
Molina had been with the Police Department for four years and was a patrol officer in the Central Regional Command. Before joining the department, Molina did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Marine Corps.
Gonzalez remains jailed, his bond set at $5 million. His arraignment in the 346th District Court has yet to be scheduled. Court records show Gonzalez's attorney is Max Daniel Muñoz.
Adriana M. Chávez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6117. Follow her on Twitter @AChavezEPTimes.