Slay­ing of SAMA em­ployee ‘a shock’

San Antonio Express-News - - METRO - By Fares Sabawi

Robert Es­parza, 68, of­ten made his pres­ence felt around his fam­ily and co-work­ers at the San An­to­nio Mu­seum of Art with his corny jokes and up­beat at­ti­tude.

“He knew ev­ery dad joke in the book,” said Robby Es­parza, his 36-year-old son. “I even apol­o­gized to his co-work­ers for all the bad jokes.”

On Oct. 15, his co-work­ers re­al­ized that pres­ence was miss­ing.

Robert Es­parza, the se­cu­rity su­per­vi­sor at the mu­seum and a fa­mil­iar face for vis­i­tors, hadn’t shown up for work, which was un­usual.

Know­ing he had a heart prob­lem, the co-work­ers vis­ited his home to see if some­thing was wrong.

In­side Robert Es­parza’s home in the 300 block of West Hard­ing, they found the front door un­locked, the home rav­aged, and Robert Es­parza ly­ing life­less in the back bed­room. The death was a ruled a homi­cide.

“I knew he had heart is­sues, so when I first got the call that was my first as­sump­tion,” said Gilbert Cam­pos, 45, Robert Es­parza’s other son. “When I got there and saw the yel­low tape, I just blacked out.”

The news dev­as­tated the fam­ily, who knew Robert Es­parza was beloved by ev­ery­one who knew him.

“Ev­ery­thing was just a shock,” Robby Es­parza said.

The fam­ily, who laid Robert Es­parza to rest last week, have in­ten­tion­ally stayed in the dark on the de­tails of his death.

They are choos­ing to re­mem­ber how he lived his life in­stead, as a men­tor, a vol­un­teer with the San An­to­nio Met­ro­pol­i­tan Min­istry and a man who would go out of his way to help those he loved.

“It pre­serves his mem­ory to us,” Robby Es­parza said. “Not only that, but we re­spect the po­lice depart­ment and the de­tec­tives work­ing on the case.”

Af­ter Robert Es­parza was found dead, San An­to­nio po­lice quickly be­gan search­ing for two cars be­long­ing to him that were miss­ing.

They found one of the cars, a Toy­ota Ta­coma, the next day on the East Side. The dis­cov­ery led to the ar­rest of Ben­ito Me­ne­sess, 47. that were sent in ad­vance to vot­ers over­seas or serv­ing in the mil­i­tary. Those must be re­turned by 5 p.m. Tues­day. The 16 coun­ties that pro­vided fig­ures to the Ex­press-News are wait­ing for a to­tal of 357 over­seas or mil­i­tary bal­lots. It’s any­one’s guess how many will be re­turned.

At the Bexar County Com­mis­sion­ers Court on Fri­day morn­ing, cam­paign staffers for Jones lam­basted Cal­la­nen, the county’s

He is charged with mur­der.

An­other ve­hi­cle, a black 2012 Chevro­let Equinox with li­cense plate num­ber KNC3310, re­mains miss­ing.

The fam­ily hopes any­one with in­for­ma­tion about Robert Es­parza’s death will come for­ward and help bring his killers to jus­tice.

“If this was hap­pen­ing to you, wouldn’t you hope some­one would say some­thing?” Robby Es­parza said. “Even if it’s a lit­tle piece of in­for­ma­tion, that would elec­tion ad­min­is­tra­tor, for her re­fusal to re­lease a list of vot­ers who cast pro­vi­sional bal­lots.

Kristian Car­ranca Thomp­son, a field di­rec­tor for Jones, said the cam­paign wanted to in­form those vot­ers that they needed to “cure” their bal­lots so they would be counted.

“This is pub­lic record, so those pub­lic records should given to those who are re­quest­ing it,” she said. help out greatly.”

While po­lice con­tinue in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case, the Es­parza fam­ily is work­ing on mov­ing for­ward and grow­ing closer.

“No mat­ter what, noth­ing is ever go­ing to bring him back. I’m al­ways go­ing to have this hole in my heart,” Cam­pos said. “If any­thing, I think it’s brought the en­tire fam­ily closer.” now?” Price asked the court, cry­ing and lift­ing a box of pa­per­work. “You’re tak­ing away the only per­son I trust to deal with my claim, that’s about $500,000 in retroac­tive pay that I’m about to lose if you mess this up.”

Later, Wolff said that was ex­actly why the county has ex­panded its ser­vices.

“The vet­eran who spoke ear­lier is a per­fect ex­am­ple of why this county is more than dou­bling its in­vest­ment in how it serves vet­er­ans,” Wolff said from the dais. “This is not about any one in­di­vid­ual in any one job. This is about pro­vid­ing bet­ter ser­vice to our vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies. It’s un­for­tu­nate that in­di­vid­u­als have tried and will con­tinue to try to politi­cize some­thing like this. I apol­o­gize to the com­mu­nity for that.”

Calvert asked whether Ro­driguez could be hired as a con­sul­tant to con­tinue han­dling Price’s and other claims. The com­mis­sion­ers said they wouldn’t have a prob­lem with that, but it would be up to Roli­rad.

Tay­lor said the lists of pro­vi­sional vot­ers do not be­come pub­lic un­til the county’s early vot­ing bal­lot board has com­pleted its tally of pro­vi­sional votes. In Bexar County, the board hasn’t fin­ished.

“They’re ask­ing me to break the law, and I’m not go­ing to do it,” Cal­la­nen said.

The vot­ers should al­ready have been no­ti­fied, said Tay­lor of the sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice. When those who didn’t bring ac­cept­able ID cast a pro­vi­sional bal­lot, they’re given a writ­ten no­tice that they must re­turn to ver­ify their iden­tity, he said.

The fi­nal re­sults of the elec­tion likely will be de­ter­mined by the last week in No­vem­ber, Tay­lor said.

Noelle Rosellini, Jones’ cam­paign man­ager, said elec­tion of­fi­cials should be work­ing as hard as they can to get the votes counted.

“It’s ab­surd and un­for­tu­nate that they’re not do­ing that right now,” she said. “We hope that they’ll re­lease the in­for­ma­tion be­fore the dead­line so all bal­lots can be counted.”

Rosellini also said Demo­cratic Party lawyers sent Cal­la­nen a let­ter chal­leng­ing her state­ments about which bal­lots can be cured — elec­tion of­fi­cials have said only those from vot­ers who didn’t sat­isfy ID re­quire­ments can be cured by the vot­ers.

Tay­lor said Cal­la­nen has been cor­rectly in­ter­pret­ing the law.

Robert Es­parza, 68, was killed on Oct. 15 in his home dur­ing an ap­par­ent rob­bery.

Dar­ren Abate / As­so­ci­ated Press

The cam­paign of U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San An­to­nio, speak­ing on elec­tion night, said it doesn’t think that the out­stand­ing bal­lots in his race will re­sult in him los­ing his seat in Con­gres­sional Dis­trict 23.

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