Defendants apologize for killing, ask for mercy


Two men found guilty of murder for the May 2007 fatal bombing in the Luxor parking garage begged for mercy on Monday.

The same jury that found Omar Rueda-Denvers and Porfirio Duarte-Herrera guilty of building and planting the pipe bomb that killed Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio is expected to decide their fate today.

The penalty phase of the trial finished about 7 p.m. Monday, and the jurors deliberated for two hours before being sent home. The jury will decide whether Rueda-Denvers, 33, and Duarte-Herrera, 29, should receive the death penalty, life in prison without parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole for the first-degree murder convictions.

The two defendants, who are in the country illegally, were also found guilty of attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon and multiple other felonies.

Authorities said Dorantes Antonio was targeted because he was in a relationship with Rueda-Denvers' ex-girlfriend, Caren Chali, who was with Dorantes Antonio when the bomb went off and who survived. Chali has a daughter with Rueda-Denvers.

With tear-filled eyes and cracking voices, both defendants apologized for what they had done and begged the jurors for mercy.

Duarte-Herrera, who is from Nicaragua, spoke through an interpreter.

"I am sorry for what happened to this young man. And I beg you to have compassion on my life because no matter what we do in this case, we can never bring this young man back."

Rueda-Denvers, of Guatemala, spoke in broken English.

"I want to say so sorry to family of Dorantes. I want to say so sorry to Chali family. I want to say so sorry to my family. I want to say I love you to my daughters," he said.

Rueda-Denvers, also known as Alexander Perez, said he would go to prison and work hard. "I will cause no more problems," he said.

Several jurors were visibly moved by the defendants' statements and wiped tears from their eyes. One juror covered her face.

During the penalty phase, the jury heard additional evidence from prosecutors about a bombing outside a Las Vegas Home Depot on Halloween 2006 and one in the desert that Duarte-Herrera is accused of committing. Nobody was hurt in those bombings, and Duarte-Herrera was not convicted in the incidents.

Duarte-Herrera's attorneys brought in relatives to speak of the poverty he grew up in as a child in Nicaragua. He combed through a garbage dump for wearable shoes and clothes.

Defense attorneys also spoke on behalf of Rueda-Denvers.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Nell Keenan appealed to the jury's sense of justice.

"You've heard about mercy, this idea (to) have mercy and spare their lives," she said. "But being merciful is more complicated than that. What you are here to do is to determine what is justice. Consider justice for their victims. Justice for society. Justice for this community."

Keenan said the defendants had decided Dorantes Antonio's fate, acting as his judge, jury and executioner.

"They didn't show Caren any mercy. They didn't show Willebaldo any mercy," Keenan said.

"You cannot put the lives affected by this back together, but you can do justice," she said.

Rueda-Denvers and Duarte-Herrera also were found guilty of one count each of attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon and transportation or receipt of an explosive for unlawful purpose and two counts of possession of an explosive or incendiary device.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

 

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