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McConnell Unit inmates charged with murder
by Gary Kent
Apr 06, 2012 | 6022 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE — Three McConnell Unit prisoners were indicted last Thursday on murder charges after being identified as the assailants in a stabbing death last year, and a fourth inmate was indicted for the death of his cell mate.

Abel Lee Martinez, who was 26 when the murder was committed on May 13, 2011, was the main defendant in the first case, according to public information personnel for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Martinez was discovered in a William G. McConnell Unit shower, covered with blood, shortly after his cell mate, Carlos Rodriguez, was found stabbed in his cell.

Others indicted in the same incident were Michael Rivera and Joe Angel Roberts. All three were indicted on a murder charge.

The offense is a first degree felony. If convicted, they could be sentenced to 99 years or life in prison.

Jason Clark, TDCJ public relations officer, said Martinez was suspected of being a member of a prison gang at the time of the offense.

Martinez was serving a six-year sentence at the time of the murder after being convicted of burglary of a building, burglary of a habitation, theft and assault/bodily injury, all in Dallas County.

According to an investigator with the TDCJ’s Office of the Inspector General, the victim suffered blunt trauma, stab wounds and signs of strangulation.

Clark said the victim was rushed to the prison infirmary and later taken to Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville, where he was pronounced dead by the doctor on duty.

He was serving a life sentence at the time of his death on a manslaughter conviction in Dallas County.

According to the indictments, Rivera was serving a sentence on a robbery conviction out of Hale County, and Roberts had previous convictions for burglary of a habitation in Travis County and for murder, theft and possession of a controlled substance out of Hill County.

District Judge Joel Johnson set bond on each of the defendants at $100,000.

Grand jurors also indicted another McConnell Unit inmate, 32-year-old Juan M. Ovalle, on a murder charge.

That also is a first degree felony.

Ovalle is suspected of having killed 30-year-old John Gutierrez in the cell they both shared on July 25, 2011.

Investigators said the victim was found unresponsive in his cell and that he was locked in with the suspect at the time.

Ovalle was removed from the cell, and Gutierrez was taken to the McConnell Unit medical facility and later transferred to CSHB, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim reportedly had blunt force trauma and signs of strangulation.

Gutierrez was serving a two-year sentence at the time on a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, with intent to deliver. That conviction was in Harris County on Jan. 11, 2011.

Ovalle was in prison after being convicted of Bexar County in 1999 on charges of murder, aggravated assault/serious bodily injury and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

His bond was also set at $100,000 by Johnson.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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