Drug dealer gets life term in Pleasant Grove slaying


by By JENNIFER EMILY / The Dallas Morning News


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 2:52 PM

Ismael Moreno thought Xenia Wilson had snitched to Mesquite police about his drug business.

So he killed her.

But he was mistaken; Wilson didn't tell the cops anything.

On Monday, a Dallas County grand jury convicted Moreno of capital murder, automatically sending him to prison for life without parole.

Wilson, 22, was selling drugs for Moreno in March 2006 when he shot her eight times with an AR-15 rifle in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas. She and her car were then set on fire.

Moreno thought Wilson talked to police because she was arrested and released not long before police raided his home and found $100,000 in cash, 15 pounds of marijuana, guns and methamphetamine.

Prosecutors Rachael Jones and Robert McClure told jurors that Moreno repeatedly told people "that he was going to kill that [expletive]."

Moreno's family sat quietly after state District Judge Don Adams read the verdict. They declined to comment after they left the courtroom.

Wilson's mother listened to attorneys' closings arguments Monday, but left before the jury's verdict because she had to pick up her grandchild. Wilson was a single mother.

Two men who helped Moreno - Roberto Rojas and Jose Verdazco - have already pleaded guilty to murder and testified against Moreno during his trial. Rojas faces up to 30 years for murder and has an outstanding drug charge. Verdazco could get a life sentence.

Verdazco potentially faces a longer sentence because he called Wilson and lured her to her death, then set her car on fire at Moreno's instructions.

During the trial, Moreno's defense attorney, Paul Brauchle, tried shifting the blame to Verdazco and Rojas.

He argued that they - not Moreno - killed Wilson and tried to frame him. He noted that there was no DNA or fingerprints to connect Moreno to the murder.

"It just doesn't pan out," he said.

But Jones countered in her closing statements that the jury shouldn't "reward him for being a smart criminal."

Then, pulling out the AR-15 used to kill Wilson, she stood in front of the jury box.

"Isn't that the perfect way to get rid of a snitch?" she said, holding the rifle. "If he didn't, everyone will think they could do the same [as Wilson]."

Moreno received an automatic life sentence because he was convicted of capital murder and prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.