DALLAS - A Dallas County jury unanimously ruled on Thursday that the triggerman in a murder-for-hire plot to kill a Dallas dentist was guilty of capital murder.
Kristopher Love waived his right to testify in his own defense and his attorney then rested without calling any witnesses Thursday morning. A jury found him guilty after only a few hours of deliberations.
Dr. Kendra Hatcher was killed in the parking lot of her Uptown Dallas apartment complex in 2015. Prosecutors said Love was hired by Brenda Delgado to kill Hatcher because she was in a relationship with Delgado’s ex-boyfriend.
Love showed no reaction as the jury read the verdict. He is eligible for the death penalty.
The mother of Dr. Kendra Hatcher left the courtroom in tears. Hatcher's boyfriend -- the man who unknowingly fueled the plot of jealous revenge -- was also there, along with Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson.
"We can't talk now. The case is still going on,” Johnson said afterward.
During the trial, detectives testified about finding the murder weapon in Love’s personal vehicle. Jurors also listed to the first interviews Love had with homicide detectives a month after the murder. He initially denied knowing Delgado but changed his story after detectives told him they had found the gun.
The alleged getaway driver, Crystal Cortes, also gave key testimony against Love. She gave jurors details about how she, Delgado and Love planned and then carried out the murder. She was charged with capital murder but took a plea deal and will get a lesser sentence of 35 years in exchange for her testimony.
Most of Love’s defense focuses on Cortes’ credibility. His attorney pointed out that she repeatedly lied to investigators in recorded interviews. At one point she told investigators another man had pulled the trigger and admitted she thought Love might testify against her and claim she pulled the trigger.
“Now, we may not like Crystal Cortes,” said prosecutor LaQuita Long. “We may never want to hang out with her. And we all might think she is a horrible, horrible person. But she came in here and told the truth.”
“You cannot find the defendant guilty upon the testimony of crystal Cortes unless you first believe that her testimony is true,” said defense attorney Paul Johnson. “And that is where the state has problems in this case.”
Love is facing the death penalty if convicted. Delgado has not yet gone to trial for capital murder. She fled to Mexico after the crime. As part of the extradition agreement, she cannot be given the death penalty if convicted.
Jurors will be off until Monday when the trial resumes for the sentencing phase.