Jury hears clashing images of killer

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Jury hears clashing images of killer

Post  Jennie on Wed Jun 25, 2008 11:59 am

2 starkly different pictures of Jonathan Depue emerged in the punishment phase of his capital murder trial Monday for the 2006 shooting death of retired Edison High School teacher Aleta Rhodes.

One was that of a mentally slow, playful, affectionate child who hugged and kissed his grandmother and who later teased his future wife in high school by throwing water at her and was manipulated by his older brother and younger cousin.

The other was of a cold-blooded man who allegedly raped a woman with the barrel of a pistol and who put a bullet in Rhodes' head during a burglary of her home Sept. 29, 2006.

Jurors on Thursday convicted Depue of killing Rhodes, 57. He now faces either life in prison or the death penalty.

In the portrayal of the hardened criminal, Depue's older brother Eric Depue, who also is charged in the slaying, testified that a cousin, Ruben Daniel Montoya, told him about another burglary in which Jonathan Depue allegedly sexually assaulted a woman.

Montoya, who is also charged with capital murder in Rhodes' death, did not testify.

The alleged rape victim took the stand to tell what had happened that night in the fall of 2006 when she heard her door kicked in, and rose to face the barrel of a gun.

She couldn't identify her attacker because he wore a bandana over his face. Jonathan Depue has never been charged with the crime.

The woman, who is not being identified because she is a sex assault victim, thought of her 5-year-old daughter.

"At that point I was pleading that they not make any noise and wake up my daughter in the other room," she said.

She could hear someone else walking across the wood floor. Her attacker made her undress and lie down. She cried, her hands over her face. She felt something cold inside her.

Jonathan Depue's wife, Martha Depue, who took the witness stand in his defense Monday, said he was never violent with her. His grandmother, Linda Depue, called Jonathan Depue a "loving child." He would shower her with hugs and kisses and say, "Grandma, I love you."

The defendant's sister, Margarita Depue, testified he was the target of hatred by their stepfather. She also described him as playful.

"He's like a little kid," she said in tears, "that's all we did, was be like kids."

The trial continues today in Judge Philip Kazen's 227th District Court.

(source: San Antonio Express-News)

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