The 13th Court of Appeals will not revisit its ruling denying a 44-year-old man’s murder conviction for beating a man to death outside a bar in downtown McAllen in 2016.
Victor Manuel Florido Ordonez, of McAllen, is serving life in prison for assaulting 52-year-old Eleazar Vega Vela outside Los Tres Chiflados Bar on Feb. 20, 2016. That the man remained in a vegetative state for five months until he died July 6, 2016.
The appeals court denied Ordonez’s appeal in late July, and last week said it wouldn’t revisit its ruling.
His only issue on appeal was that he believed the evidence was legally insufficient to convict him of murder because the state didn’t prove that he “harbored the required intent or knowledge to kill Vela.”
Ordonez argued that even though eye witnesses watched him strike Vela’s face and body and DNA evidence implicating the man, just because he intended to strike Vela didn’t mean he intended to kill him.
He also argued Vela’s injuries weren’t lethal.
The appellate court disagreed, citing consistent rulings that kicking someone in the head with the force used by Ordonez is “clearly dangerous to human life.”
Eye witnesses told investigators that Ordonez knocked Vela out and then repeatedly kicked him, according to the ruling.
A defense expert also disputed that Vela died from the injuries sustained in the attack, testifying that the victim’s use of alcohol and drugs disrupted his ability to fight off infections the man sustained while being treated.
“The defense expert himself conceded that punching or kicking a person multiple times in the head are acts (that) would be ‘clearly dangerous to human life,’” the ruling stated. “And he further opined that without immediate medical intervention, it was likely Vela would have died on scene rather than months later due to complications.”
At trial, the jury also had the options of lesser-included offenses, including manslaughter or aggravated assault.
“The jury rebuffed this opportunity, impliedly rejecting Ordonez’s defensive theory that he did not knowingly and intentionally cause Vela’s death when he punched and kicked Vela,” the ruling stated.