Jury Deliberations Begin in Marvin Palencia Murder Trial

On November 11, 2010, Marvin Palencia drank alcohol while sitting in his van, which was in the parking garage of a building in the 100 block of Constitution Avenue Northwest. He had with him in that van a recently purchased gun, which Palencia says he bought to use on himself. Then, Palencia spotted Jacobo Vazquez, a co-worker who had had an affair with his wife, and he decided to follow him into a storage room on the second floor of that parking garage. Vazquez never left the storage room alive.

Prosecutors in the murder trial against Palencia, 35, told jurors in closing arguments Wednesday that the murder was planned from start to finish, after Palencia learned of a months-long affair between his wife and 36-year-old Vazquez.

[Palencia] knew exactly what was going to happen,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Canon said. “He was going to murder him.” It was “a classic case of premeditated murder,” he said.

But Palencia’s defense attorneys argued that Palencia only wanted to scare Vazquez with his gun that evening, but became fearful after Vazquez pulled a knife from his shoe.

Vazquez’s body was found in a box wrapped with duct tape along westbound I-70 in Maryland November 16, five days after that encounter in the garage.

Dr. Carol Allen, assistant medical examiner for the state of Maryland, testified that Vazquez suffered two gunshot wounds: one to the torso and one to the back of the head. Allen said that the wound on the back of Vazquez’s head was a contact wound. To create the contact wound, the muzzle of the gun would have been pressed against the skin, she testified.

If it was an act of self defense, “how did Jacobo Vazquez end up with a contact wound on the back of his head?” Canon asked the jury Wednesday.

Palencia testified at trial that when he entered the storage room, Vazquez immediately started yelling at him and then pulled a knife from his shoe. Palencia said he shot the gun out of fear for his life, then covered Vazquez’s head with a plastic bag, placed his body in a box, wrapped the box in duct tape and dumped it along I-70.

Retired Metropolitan Police Detective Monica Shields testified that she began investigating the case on Nov. 17 2010, a day after Vazquez’s body was found. Shields said black gloves were found in a trash can on the second-floor parking garage level, where prosecutors believe Vazquez was killed.

No knife was ever recovered during the course of the investigation.

But James Whitehead, Palencia’s defense attorney, argued that the government “didn’t even bother to look” for evidence of a knife. The government “didn’t want to know” anything that didn’t point towards murder, Whitehead said.

Palencia is charged with premeditated first-degree murder while armed, evidence tampering and weapons charges in connection with Vazquez’s death.

Jury deliberations in the case will resume Thursday morning.

Ivan Natividad contributed reporting.

blog comments powered by Disqus