Court denies appeal for Lufkin man who killed 2 fetuses

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An appeals court has denied a new trial for a Lufkin man convicted of killing twin fetuses in 2004.

Lufkin Police arrested Gerardo Flores, 25, on May 7, 2004, after they learned he had killed his girlfriend's twin fetuses by kicking her in the stomach. Throughout the investigation and subsequent trial, he claimed he did it because she wanted an abortion.

Because state law prevents a woman from being charged with killing her own fetus, Flores had to go to trial on his own.

An Angelina County jury found Flores guilty of two counts of capital murder on June 7, 2005, and he was sentenced to life in prison.

Last week, an appeals court denied Flores' motion for a writ of habeas corpus.

Judge Cathy Cochran wrote in her opinion that Flores' claim that his trial attorney, Ryan Deaton, was ineffective had no merit.

According to the opinion, District Judge Barry Bryan recommended Flores be granted relief due to Deaton not presenting expert testimony from two potential witnesses and not raising sufficiency of evidence on direct appeal.

Cochran argued Deaton's possible errors were not enough to show a "conceivable effect on the outcome of the proceeding."

The 25-page opinion also gives great detail of the case, paraphrased below:

Flores and his girlfriend were in high school when they began dating. They had been seeing each other for over a year when, in February 2004, the woman discovered she was pregnant with twins. Flores was 18 and his girlfriend was 16.

On May 7, the girl prematurely delivered two stillborn fetuses. They had been dead between 24 and 48 hours. Emergency personnel took her to a Lufkin hospital, where nurses noticed she had massive bruising all the way across her abdomen, as well as fingerprint-like bruising under her right arm. The nurses tried to get her to tell them who caused the bruises, but she refused. The nurses reported the case to Lufkin Police.

After speaking to the involved parties, police determined Flores was likely responsible for the abuse. Flores was then arrested and charged with capital murder.

The girl's doctor provided the following statement:

"There was bruising over the right cheek bone. Her lip was cracked. There was blood apparent on both lips. The lips were both swollen, but I did not see any lacerations or any tears in the lips. Both upper arms had bruising which, in my opinion, appeared to be consistent with injuries from a finger grasp around the arm. . .. Her back and buttocks had no evidence of any trauma. The left breast had an old bruise. There was no new bruising evident on the left breast. Most of her bruising was over the abdomen, and it was around the level of the umbilicus, or the belly button, from . . . side to side going all the way across the abdomen."

In a series of statements before and after his arrest, Flores admitted to hitting the girl the night before her delivery. He also admitted to stepping on her stomach after she returned home from an April 30 doctor's appointment where she learned it was too late for a safe abortion.

The girl explained that she asked Flores to step on her stomach twice and admitted to getting into a fight with him the night before the premature delivery, which caused the bruising on her face. She also admitted to hitting herself on the stomach more than 10 times, in the hope of killing the fetuses.

The state's theory was that the girl was "under the spell" of Flores and her testimony was calculated to cover up his abusive behavior.

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