Abel Revill Ochoa, 47, was executed by lethal injection on 6 February 2020 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of his wife, two children, and two other family members.
On Sunday, 4 August, 2002, Ochoa, then 29, shot six members of his family in his home in Dallas, killing five. According to the confession he signed on the day of the murders, he had been addicted to crack cocaine for about two years and had recently spent two months living in a drug rehab house. He was driving home from church with his wife and daughters, and he asked his wife, Cecilia, to give him ten dollars to buy a bag of crack. At first, she did not want to give him the money, but he "talked her into it." With Cecilia and the girls in the car, he stopped by the dope house and made his purchase. When they got home, he went into the back yard and smoked the crack.
"While I was lying on the bed, my body started wanting more crack," his confession read. He stated that he knew from experience that if he asked his wife for more money, they would get into an argument, so "I got up and went to my closet and I got my Ruger 9mm gun." The gun was already loaded. Ochoa stated that he walked into the living room and "I started shooting while they were all sitting on the couch. The victims were Cecilia, 29; her 56-year-old father, Bartolo Alivizo, who lived with them; his 18-month old* daughter, Anahi; and his two sisters-in-law, Alma Alivizo, 27, and Jackie Selah, 20, who were there for a visit. "I don't remember who I shot first," the confession read, "but I ran out of bullets." He went back into the bedroom, picked up another magazine, and returned to the living room. His 7-year-old daughter, Crystal, saw him with the gun and started running away. "I chased after her and I shot her," he stated.
Ochoa then went into the bedroom and picked up his wife's purse. He drove his wife's Toyota 4Runner to a nearby shopping center and tried to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine, but he did not know his wife's code. He drove around for a minute, uncertain what to do next, then was stopped by police. A crack pipe was found on his person.
Neighbors heard a string of gunshots and saw Alma running from the house, bloody and screaming. Neighbors described the vehicle Ochoa was driving to police.
Four of the victims died at the crime scene. Baby Ana died at a hospital. Alma Alivizo was the only survivor. A hospital spokeswoman said she was given 42 units of blood during surgery to repair a major artery.
Officer Cox, who arrested Ochoa, testified that he asked where the gun was, "to make sure it wasn't ... a threat to somebody if it was thrown out of a window, or in the shopping center somewhere." Ochoa responded that the gun was in his house on the table and added, "I couldn't handle the stress anymore." About a minute later, Cox testified, Ochoa said something like, "I got tired of my life."
Other testimony admitted at trial stated that when Ochoa came into the house after smoking crack in the yard, he walked past his guests in the living room without greeting them. His wife came in to the bedroom and told him that he was rude for not saying hello to her sisters. He answered that he did not want them to see him feeling the way he did. It was about 20 minutes afterward - about 6:10 p.m. - that he came out and shot everyone. He was arrested at 6:33 p.m.
News articles published before Ochoa's trial stated that Cecilia Ochoa had told members of her family that he was "controlling and abusive" and had hit her at least twice. She did not take her concerns to the police, however. Reporters also noted that Abel Ochoa, a Mexican-born U.S. citizen, had a spotless criminal record.
Ochoa pleaded not guilty. At the punishment phase of his trial, he testified that he did not remember anything about the incident except reloading the gun and discharging it after seeing Crystal. He testified that he did not remember saying anything in his confession to Detective Lusty, the officer who took it. He said that Lusty "would tell me stuff" and then he would just say, "Yeah, yeah, that's, that's what happened."
The prosecutor asked, over the defense lawyer's objection, whether Ochoa was claiming Lusty was "some type of crooked cop" who just made everything up and got him to sign it. "I don't believe he's a crooked cop," Ochoa answered. He said that it was possible he told Lusty everything in the confession; he just didn't remember saying it.
A doctor testifying for the defense stated that the shootings were the product of a "cocaine-induced delirium" during which Ochoa was not fully aware of or in control of his actions.
An expert testifying for the prosecution said it was "a matter of anger" and that Ochoa was very frustrated with his marriage and his life. Prosecutors alleged that he was still angry with his wife over her belatedly telling him she had a son, Jonathan, from a previous marriage. The couple separated for a time in 1997 after he learned about Jonathan.
A tape was played of a phone conversation Ochoa had with Cecilia during their separation. In it, Ochoa asks her to keep him updated regarding their daughter, but she answers, "You're not gonna know nothing about your daughter." After the husband and wife argue back and forth in that vein, he interrupts her to say, "Well see, you're starting to piss me off again. You want me to go shoot you right now? What's wrong with you man? Why do you act that way? Why do you say these words to me? Jerk. Witch."
Ochoa stated that if he hadn't heard the tape played back in court, he never would have remembered saying that he threatened to shoot his wife. He testified that he did not ever make that threat again. The prosecutor responded by saying, "And that's just quite a coincidence that the one time that you happen to threaten your wife, tell her you would shoot her, just happens to be she had a tape recorder running."
Alma testified that her sister told her that about three weeks before the killings, Ochoa pointed a gun to her head. She also testified that when Ochoa started shooting, he had a "very mean, very angry" expression on his face.
*According to court records. News reports give her age as 9 months.
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