Depending on the trial, the jury literally has the power to determine if someone lives or dies, which is why there must be no doubt that the accused is truly guilty.
In May 1996, a jury had to decide if one Texas man accused of murder was guilty or innocent. Normally, it would have been a difficult decision to make. But the jury came to a unanimous decision after they heard what the man said to a security guard at a bus station…
Home For The Holidays
On December 28th, 1994, 44-year-old Leonard Rojas was on a bus heading to Dallas, Texas. The Texas native, who lived in a small town near Fort Worth, looked like every other traveler heading home to spend time with family and friends for the holidays.
On The Run
Unlike all the other passengers on the bus headed for Dallas, however, Rojas wasn’t headed to anything. Instead, he was running from something. And unlike all the other travelers who carried bags full of presents, Rojas was carrying a dark secret…
Rojas’ secret was weighing heavily on him, and by the time he arrived at the Dallas bus station after just an hour on the road, he decided he needed to come clean. After stepping off the bus, Rojas went up to the first security guard he saw and confessed.
The Bus Station Confession
After approaching the security guard, Rojas told admitted that he had been “involved in something.” Rojas didn’t go into much detail about what happened, but the guard got the feeling that the ‘something’ Rojas was confessing to was pretty serious…
The Texas Ranger
The security guards at the bus station contacted the Dallas Police as well as the Texas Rangers. Investigator George Turner, from the Texas Rangers, was the lead investigator for the case and personally drove to the bus station to pick Rojas up.
An Unusual Suspect
Once in police custody, Rojas explained that they would find 2 dead bodies at his home, which was a double-wide trailer, that was in Alvarado, a small town about 30 miles south-east of Fort Worth. What Rojas said next, however, left the investigators speechless…
According to Rojas, the 2 bodies inside his trailer belonged to his common-law wife, 34-year-old Jo Ann Reed, and his brother, 43-year-old David Rojas. Then, Rojas voluntarily told the police that he was the one responsible for their murders.
An Investigation Begins
“George Turner (Texas Ranger) was lead investigator,” the Assistant District Attorney James Cawthon, Jr. said. “And George went and picked him up and got statements from him. And started collecting evidence on the double homicide…”
Nothing To Hide
Rojas, who had 2 previous convictions in California and Nevada for drug trafficking, shockingly told the investigators everything they wanted to know. Rojas was “able to recall everything in vivid detail and very forthright with the police,” Assistant District Attorney Cawthon said.
The Night Before The Murder
According to Rojas, he had been living in the double-wide trailer with both his common-law wife/girlfriend and his younger brother. On the night of December 26, the Rojas, Jo Ann, and David had been playing dominoes and doing drugs…
The Boiling Point
Their drug-fueled evening went on to the early hours of December 27. In the morning, after all the drugs started to wear off, Rojas was in the kitchen making coffee when he saw Jo Ann try to quietly slip out of his brother’s bedroom.
Rojas was furious and accused Jo Ann of cheating on him with his brother. Jo Ann insisted nothing happened and that there was nothing to worry about. To prove she meant was she was saying, Jo Ann lead Rojas into their bedroom, and began performing oral sex on him…
But Rojas didn’t believe a word Jo Ann had told him. He felt betrayed and he snapped. While they were in the middle of having sex, Rojas grabbed his .32-caliber handgun and shot his common-law wife between the eyes at point-blank range.
The Next Victim
After shooting Jo Ann, Rojas left their bedroom and called his brother to come out of the bathroom. When David opened the bathroom door, Rojas shot him 3 times. The 3 bullets killed David instantly, but Jo Ann wasn’t so lucky…
Finishing The Job
Despite being shot in the head at point-blank range, Jo Ann was still breathing and fighting to stay alive. “After he kills his brother he goes back and he can still hear her (Reed) breathing or gasping for air. He takes a plastic bag and sticks it over her head and ties it. That’s how she died,” Assistant District Attorney Cawthon explained.
After killing his brother and long-term girlfriend, Rojas went into the kitchen, made himself a cup of coffee, and lit a cigarette like nothing had happened. While enjoying his coffee, Rojas even answered several phone calls from Jo Ann’s friends and a co-worker and told them she was too sick to talk…
“They had been doing speed for some period of time before this happened,” Cawthorn said. “It was a pretty brutal murder and he was extremely cold-blooded about it.” After finishing his coffee, Rojas hitchhiked to the bus station in Fort Worth and bought a one-way ticket to run away.
Rojas planned on running off to Atlanta, Georgia, but he only made it to the first stop in Fort Texas before he confessed to everything. Not long after Roja’s multiple confessions, police arrested him and charged him with capital murder…
Despite his multiple, detailed confessions, Rojas plead not guilty. Because of the overwhelming evidence, a jury found Rojas guilty and sentenced him to death on May 22, 1996. On December 4, 2002, 52-year-old Rojas was executed by lethal injection.
In his death row interview, Rojas had no regrets about what he had done. “I’ll never regret it. Never. I just snapped … I just said, no more abuse from these people,” said Rojas, who believed Jo Ann and David were poisoning his coffee. “They wanted my money, wanted my drugs, and they wanted to do me in.”