Testimony: Suspect told cousin he killed ex-girlfriend

The man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend allegedly confessed to one cousin and paid another to burn her SUV.

Faustino Valdez is on trial for the murder of Marisol Espinosa, a young mother from Pleasant Grove. She disappeared shortly after Christmas in 2015 and her body was found a few months later under a bridge in southeast Dallas.

Prosecutors put Valdez‘s cousin, Marco Gonzalez, on the stand on Thursday and provided perhaps the most damning evidence against him. It was followed up with forensic cell phone testimony indicating a possible timeline of when Espinoza died.

During Thursday’s testimony, Gonzalez told jurors Valdez told him he killed Espinosa but didn’t say how. Gonzalez also said his cousin told him he dumped her body off Interstate 20.

“It’s never been in dispute that she died in the house with him. But what his cousin also said is that they argued a lot. And that’s been our theory of the case all along is that she may have died in the house with him, but it was a fight,” said Phillip Linder, Valdez’s attorney. “It was an accident. And so even though Marco said that he killed her, he didn’t say how. They didn’t elaborate on it.”

Valdez allegedly paid another cousin $40 to burn her SUV, according to testimony from a former Dallas Police Department homicide detective.

The detective said Espinosa’ cellphone and became inactive at 9:51 a.m. on the day she went missing. The phone was never found but her phone case and her eyeglasses, which had her blood on them, were found in her SUV. Her SIM card was found in the suspect’s backyard.

Espinosa’s mother, Rosemary talked about what it was like to see the man accused of murdering her only child.

“I just… I don’t even know what’s going through my mind,” the mother said. “I don’t even know. I feel numb.”

Valdez appear to show no emotion as his own mother took the stand testifying that the she had no idea he was fleeing to Mexico, leaving behind the two children he shared with Espinosa.

An FBI agent testified that Valdez, an American citizen, was working under an assumed name in Mexico when he was arrested by immigration police there and was deported back to Texas in July 2017.

Espinosa was the mother of three children, including two with Valdez.

Valdez’s defense team does plan to call witnesses Friday. One of them may be Valdez himself. Trial resumes Friday at 8:30 a.m.

Related: Testimony begins in murder trial of man accused of killing Pleasant Grove woman

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