CHARGES FILED IN HOTEL STABBING
Slaying at North Austin’s Budget Lodge is the latest in a string of criminal incidents at hotel adjacent to Interstate 35, officials say
A 44-year-old man has been charged in the stabbing death of a guest at a North Austin hotel that has faced years of controversy over criminal activity there.
Police on Thursday charged Carlos A. Mares with murder. Mares is accused of stabbing 57-year-old Otto Wiley in the chest several times Wednesday at the Budget Lodge near Interstate 35 and Rundberg Lane, according to an arrest affidavit filed Thursday.
Police said Mares stabbed Wiley after an argument in Wiley’s room on the third floor of the hotel, at 9220 N. Interstate 35. The two had been drinking earlier in the day, and surveillance video shows the two at a nearby Chevron gas station that morning, the affidavit said.
At 1:53 p.m. Wednesday, a Budget Lodge clerk called police to alert them of a guest who reported being stabbed several times, the affidavit said.
When police arrived at the hotel, Wiley had several stab wounds to the upper portion of his body, the affidavit said. He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he was pronounced dead.
Police interviewed Mares’ relatives, who said he called his son on Wednesday shortly before 6 p.m. and said he had stabbed someone after a disagreement, the document said.
“His father told him that he was hiding and was scared because he had gotten into a fight with a dude
after they had been drinking,” the affidavit said. “Carlos Sr. stated that he had picked up a knife and stabbed the man on the chest.”
Because of the slaying, city and police officials are giving Budget Lodge, which faced a federal lawsuit initiated by the city two years ago, a closer look.
City officials said Thursday that while the hotel has been in compliance with code requirements in recent months, it wasn’t clear whether the events surrounding the stabbing violated a 2009 agreement to keep the business open.
Larry M. Hall, 66, the longtime Budget Lodge owner, said he hadn’t had any complaints from the city since the agreement was reached.
“I was horrified” at the news of the stabbing death, Hall said by phone from his San Diego-area office. “I am not aware of the arrest of a single guest on the property in the last 12 months.”
Hall said that since the city initiated litigation against the hotel in 2008, he has installed a strict guest policy that does not allow anyone to stay or visit unless their ID is copied and they are not on the “do not rent” list. Hall said Mares did not register his ID when he visited as Wiley’s guest.
In response to high criminal activity at the hotel, city and Travis County officials filed a federal lawsuit against Budget Lodge and Hall in 2008 under state nuisance abatement laws. In the suit, officials said there were dozens of police reports on drug activity, prostitution, aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and other crimes from 2007 to 2008.
Under a July 2009 court order, the property could be closed for one year if any of 20 stipulations under the agreement were “knowingly violated.” Among the requirements: the hotel had to hire off-duty police officers to provide nighttime security, not rent rooms by the hour and keep a “do not rent” list.
“We are still in the process of evaluating the circumstances, including compliance with any nuisance abatement agreement that we had,” said Reyne Telles, a City of Austin spokesman. “We will be reviewing information as we get it and, outside of that, we have made no determinations.”
In 2008, police records show close to 300 calls of service to the motel. (Hall disputes this figure, saying it includes an area that goes beyond his hotel). In 2009, that figure fell to about 110 calls. This year, police have received about 50 calls for service, including the murder case, the figures show.