Michael Dean Gonzales back in the basin to retry penalty phase of his trial

by Hema Mullur
NewsWest 9

Without so much as a glance at his victims' friends and family, Michael Dean Gonzales entered Judge McCoy's courtroom, just like he did 12 years ago.

"In December of 1995, Michael Dean Gonzales was convicted and sentenced to death," said Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland.

And that guilty verdict will stand for the murders of Manuel and Merced Aguirre on April 21st, 1994.

"The lady was my sister.  But I considered her more like a mother," said Santos Gonzales, Merced Aguirre's brother.  "We were very close.  There's no words to explain how bad it is."
But a technicality has put the man known as "Spider" back in a West Texas courtroom to be re-sentenced for his crimes.

"They claimed a witness of ours used race as a basis for his opinion as to why death would be appropriate," said Bland.  "That expert had been using that in other cases, but he did not use it in our case."

But the case, along with many others, was thrown out anyway.

"It was just a minute technical problem, and we have to hear it all over again," said Gonzales.  "And that's where it's difficult."

It's been more than 13 years, and this family is sticking together, leaning on each other when they needed it the most.

"Time has been the healer," said Santos.  "And we're a very close family, and that's been the strength."

Sentenced to death once, Merced Aguirre's brother hopes to see a similar sentence this time, and justice served once more.

"The first time he got the death penalty, and that's strongly how I feel.," he said.  "That's what the gentleman deserves."

"A jury in Ector County decided that death was appropriate prior to this," agrees Bland.  "At this time I don't feel there's any reason to change that."

Despite knowing Gonzales is back in Odessa, Santos says he's not worried, saying justice will prevail.  And the ones he cares about most, the ones who died at the hands of Gonzales...know everything is ok.

"Well I miss them.  But the beautiful thing about them is they're in Heaven and we will see them again," said Santos.  "She knows everything is fine, and I love her."

There's no word as to when the case will be heard.  Until then, Gonzales will be held in Ector County.