The last person Justin Gonzalez called on his cellphone was Tony Olivarez, and the call was placed 15 minutes before authorities say Olivarez and Todric McDonald shot and killed Gonzalez and his cousin, a Waco police detective testified Wednesday.
Olivarez, 34, is on trial for capital murder in Waco’s 54th State District Court in the May 2014 drug-related shooting deaths of cousins Justin Gonzalez and Ulysses Gonzalez at the Pecan Tree Apartments, 2600 Grim Ave.
Prosecutors Robert Moody, Evan O’Donnell and Nelson Barnes and defense attorneys Russ Hunt and Russ Hunt Jr. rested their cases Wednesday afternoon and will give jury summations when the trial resumes Thursday morning.
The defense attorneys conferred with Olivarez after the state rested its case. Olivarez did not testify, and the defense rested its case without calling a witness.
Waco police Detective Cassie Price effectively tied the state’s case together to close out prosecution testimony by explaining her efforts to find McDonald’s co-defendant almost a year after the double murders and after McDonald had been arrested in the case.
Based on two witnesses who were in the apartment when the cousins were shot multiple times, police knew there were two men involved in the incident. While McDonald was arrested early, detectives had a harder time making the second arrest.
A woman who was allowing Justin Gonzalez to deal cocaine and methamphetamine out of her apartment at the Pecan Tree complex in exchange for drugs and cash identified Olivarez on Tuesday as the man who accompanied McDonald into the apartment.
She said both men were wielding pistols, but she buried her face in the sofa cushion when the bullets started flying and said she did not see if one or both men fired the fatal shots. Police found evidence that two types of guns were used.
Price, a nine-year Army veteran who has worked for the Waco Police Department 11 years, was a patrol officer at the time and responded with other officers to the double slaying. A year later, she was promoted to detective and was assigned the case, she said.
In trying to determine who was with McDonald that night, Price said she developed a timeline around McDonald’s various criminal activities in the days and weeks before and after the cousins’ deaths.
Three days before the Gonzalez cousins were killed, McDonald carjacked a man outside a convenience store on North 39th Street. He chased the man down the street, firing at least two rounds from his .40-caliber pistol and then stole his GMC Yukon, she said.
Two days later, McDonald and Olivarez went to a man’s home on Morrow Avenue, and McDonald demanded the man give him a gun at gunpoint, according to testimony. The man and McDonald got into a shootout in the man’s house, and the man testified he fired shots as he chased McDonald and Olivarez down the road as they sped away.
Police found .40-caliber and .380 shell casings at the apartment where the cousins were killed, and, later, a former girlfriend of McDonald’s told police she helped him find a place in Elm Mott to stash the GMC Yukon that McDonald had stolen earlier. The woman, Melissa Moore, testified Wednesday that McDonald and Olivarez are “like close brothers.”
Trial testimony showed both McDonald’s and Olivarez’s DNA was in the Yukon.
A few days later, McDonald was arrested after leading police and deputies on a high-speed chase down Bosque Boulevard with his child and the child’s mother in the car. Police found the .40-caliber pistol, minus the barrel and recoil spring, in the trunk of the car McDonald was driving.
Price said she got Olivarez’s cellphone number from one of the incident reports and discovered by reviewing Justin Gonzalez’s phone records that Olivarez was the last person Gonzalez called just before he and his cousin were killed.
“Linking up the phone calls was a big step in the investigation,” Price said.