As suspect got wife in Mexico, law waited
Gamble paid off in investigation of 2009 death
Days after 21-year-old Christy Lynn Espinosa’s body was found badly burned in eastern Travis County after she disappeared from a Sixth Street Mardi Gras celebration last year, authorities had a dilemma, a sheriff’s deputy testified at a pretrial hearing Wednesday.
Martha Medina-Hernandez, a suspect whose identification was found near the body, was in Mexico, and her husband, Kenneth Hernandez, also a suspect, wanted to get her and bring her back to Austin, said Deputy Ben Wright.
Kenneth Hernandez’s sister disclosed his plan to authorities, who worried he might have been lying about wanting to bring his wife back to smooth his own escape from the country, Wright said.
“We felt like they might be trying to trick us,” Wright said.
With no warrant secured
Continued from A1 for Kenneth Hernandez, authorities waited nervously after his sister called Wright and said the two were driving south toward the border.
The next morning, Wright said he relaxed a bit when he received another call that they were heading back north. Soon the trio crossed into the United States at Eagle Pass, and Medina-Hernandez was arrested on a warrant from a previous case. Three days later, Kenneth Hernandez was arrested, too, and along with his wife was charged with Espinosa’s death.
Wright gave the details leading up to Medina-Hernandez’s arrest at a pretrial hearing on her lawyer’s motion to suppress statements she allegedly made to her sister-in-law Rebecca Hernandez at a hotel in Mexico. Medina-Hernandez’s lawyer, Alex Calhoun, argued that the statement should not be allowed because Rebecca Hernandez was acting as an agent of law enforcement.
State District Judge Bob Perkins, who has not set a trial date for either defendant, denied the motion.
Wright said officials tried to talk Rebecca and Kenneth Hernandez into meeting Medina-Hernandez on the U.S. side of the border.
“It was their plan, and we just tried to control it as much as we could, but that didn’t happen,” said Wright, a Travis County sheriff’s deputy who works with a U.S. Marshal-led fugitive tracing task force.
Espinosa was a Crockett High School graduate who had been working as an Applebee’s waitress.
When an identification card was found near her body, detectives tracked down Kenneth Hernandez, who initially denied being involved, according to an arrest affidavit.
Rebecca Hernandez testified Wednesday that about a week after Espinosa’s death, her brother was at Seton Shoal Creek Hospital in part
left, and both told investigators that they drove around drinking with the woman who died. because “he couldn’t sleep at night.”
After he was released, Rebecca Hernandez said, her brother had the plan to go and get his wife and told her during a phone call “that she needed to come back home and face whatever she did.”
Though Rebecca Hernandez is quoted in an arrest affidavit as saying that her sisterin-law confessed in Mexico to killing Espinosa, she did not give details of that confession when pressed by Calhoun in court.
In the days after they returned from Mexico, the couple told investigators a variety of stories about Espinosa’s death, and each blamed the other, the affidavits said.
The consistent part of their stories is that the three drove around Travis County drinking late on the night of a Mardi Gras celebration on Sixth Street, according to arrest affidavits.
In one account, MedinaHernandez said Espinosa died after passing out in their car while they were drinking. In another account, she said that she and her husband had picked her up in the hopes of having a “threesome,” and then together they suffocated her after she passed out. In that account, MedinaHernandez said her husband ordered her to help suffocate Espinosa.
Kenneth Hernandez said that his wife had become jealous that Espinosa had been flirting with him and suffocated her with Saran Wrap.
Kenneth Hernandez, Martha Medina-Hernandez