DALLAS - The convicted getaway driver in a murder-for-hire plot testified against her former friend on Tuesday in a Dallas courtroom.
Brenda Delgado is charged with capital murder for the death of pediatric dentist Kendra Hatcher in her Uptown Dallas apartment parking garage. Prosecutors said Delgado hired hit man Kristopher Love to kill Hatcher because Hatcher was dating her ex-boyfriend, Ricky Paniagua.
Crystal Cortes pleaded guilty to a lesser murder charge in exchange for her testimony and 35 years in prison.
Cortes said in her testimony on Tuesday that Delgado wanted to “get rid” of Hatcher and asked her to find someone to help. She told jurors she and Delgado discussed different ways to kill Hatcher -- including injecting her with heroin or giving her a sedative. But after connecting with Love, they decided to shoot her.
Cortes testified they did a practice run of the murder leading up to it. Immediately after shooting Hatcher, Cortes said Love took her purse and camera because she said Delgado “wanted it to look like a robbery gone bad.”
Cortes said she and Love were paid by Delgado with drugs and money.
Jose Ortiz testified he is a mechanic and longtime friend of Delgado. He said she showed up to get work done on her BMW and borrowed his Jeep Cherokee. The next day he recognized his Jeep in the news reports of Hatcher’s murder.
“I’m over here lending you my car and then a day later I find out it’s in the news,” he testified.
Ortiz said he confronted Delgado about the news report and she at first denied it was his Jeep. Then she blamed Cortes, saying she was involved in something and needed to keep it a secret. Delgado asked him to hide the vehicle in his shop and paint it a different color. Instead, Ortiz said he called the police.
On Monday, Paniagua told jurors that he and Delgado had an on-off relationship. They broke up for good a few months after he got her pregnant and they decided not to have the child. Then he met Hatcher.
One of Delgado’s friends testified that she was “obsessed” with Paniagua and constantly tracked his cellphone to know his whereabouts. Delgado’s cousin told jurors about her offer to pay him to “scare” Hatcher with a baseball bat.
But, Delgado’s attorney maintains she was not involved in Hatcher’s death. Instead, the defense called Cortes a “liar beyond imagination” and claimed she and Love killed Hatcher after robbing her.
Delgado’s defense attorney on Tuesday repeatedly cautioned jurors about believing Cortes, especially given her history with law enforcement during the investigation.
If convicted, Delgado faces a maximum sentence of life in prison because of an extradition agreement with Mexico.
Love has already been convicted of capital murder and is on death row.