DALLAS - The capital murder trial began Monday for the woman accused of hiring two people to kill her romantic rival. It’s the final of three trials in the high-profile case.
Brenda Delgado allegedly hired Crystal Cortes and Kristopher Love to kill pediatric dentist Dr. Kendra Hatcher outside her Uptown Dallas apartment in September of 201. Hatcher was dating her ex-boyfriend, Ricky Paniagua.
During opening statements, prosecutors said Delgado exhibited a “pattern of recruiting people” to harm Hatcher and Paniagua. They said she ultimately gave Cortes and Love a getaway car, drugs and money to kill Hatcher. Then she fled to Mexico.
Prosecutors called Hatcher’s mother as their first witness. Bonnie Jameson sobbed as she described the evening she got the news of her daughter’s murder. Delgado showed no reaction as Jameson said, “it’s been three and a half years of hell ever since.”
Jurors also heard from the Dallas police officer who was the first on the scene on the day of the murder. They watched dash camera video showing Hatcher’s body on the ground in the Uptown parking garage.
Delgado’s cousin testified that she offered to pay him to “scare” Hatcher by hitting her with a baseball bat. One of Delgado’s former friends testified that she offered her drugs, $2,000 and a car to do “illegal things” to Hatcher and Paniagua.
Yet another one of Delgado’s friends took the stand Monday and said she was “obsessed” with Paniagua. The friend told jurors Delgado could track her ex-boyfriend’s whereabouts with her cellphone.
Paniagua said he and Delgado has an on-off relationship. In June of 2013, Delgado got pregnant but they decided not to have the child. They broke up the following summer in 2014. Then he met Hatcher in May of 2015.
Later in the trial, Cortes is expected to testify against Delgado. She pleaded guilty to a lesser murder charge in exchange for her testimony and 35 years in prison. She also testified against Love in October. He was convicted of capital murder and is now on death row.
But defense attorneys called Cortes a “liar beyond imagination” during opening statements. They asked jurors to put aside their gut feelings and worked to discredit each of the state’s witnesses.
The defense later told jurors it was simply a robbery gone bad.
“She is dead because Crystal Cortes saw an opportunity to rob and then the robbery went bad and Dr. Hatcher ended up dead,” said defense attorney George Milner.
If convicted, Delgado faces a maximum sentence of only life in prison because of an extradition agreement with Mexico.