Saturday, September 25, 2010

Katy, TX man sentenced to 48 years with half to serve for point-blank shooting murder of wife

A Katy, TX man was sentenced to 48 years imprisonment Monday, September 20 for the point-blank shooting murder of his wife. Michael Wayne Cantu, a petrochemical engineer, will be eligible for parole after serving half of his sentence. Cantu was tried in Texas 400th District Court under Presiding Judge Clifford J. Vacek.

Cantu reported his wife of 15 years, Jackie Ramirez Cantu, shot herself at their home in the 26300 block of Eden Point on April 24, 2008.

He said during the initial police investigation that he and his 37-year-old wife got into an argument while looking at family photos and reported that his wife then went into the master bathroom and shot herself in the forehead with a .38-caliber revolver.

The couple's two children, now 11 and 9, were in the house at the time but were asleep, [Defense attorney Wendell]Odom said.

Changing statements about the manner of the woman's death led police to charge Cantu with murder. Cantu first told police that he was in the kitchen when his wife committed suicide, then changed his story to claim he was in the bathroom. Cantu later told detectives that he move the gun from the bathroom floor, where it was pointed towards the victim's neck. Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office officials eventually ruled Jackie Cantu's death a homicide.

During the trial, Fort Bend County prosecutor Chad Bridges successfully argued that the changing statements, along with ballistics showing gunpowder residue on Michael's hands and a bruise where he pressed the gun up against Jackie's forehead before firing, constituted evidence of murder. According to Bridges, the forehead bruise was "a tight contact wound, which is inconsistent with trying to pull the firearm away." Jackie tried to defend herself before the father of her two children killed her.

As for the nature of the argument, Bridges said "As for what exactly happened that night and what they were arguing about, we don't know," Bridges said. "We don't know what the exact nature of the conversation was."  About the jury, he said, "We recognize the juror’s personal sacrifice to see that justice is done. It was a long trial of terrible circumstances and intense emotions.  It’s never pleasant but always necessary

The Cantus met while both of them were attending Texas A&M University. Jackie Cantu was originally from Bryan, while Michael Cantu was from Houston. They married in 1992. Both graduated from Texas A&M with Jackie Cantu earning a degree in microbiology, said her father, Guillermo Ramirez of Bryan.
"I wish this thing would have never happened to my daughter, to the family. There's a lot of sadness. The only justice that would satisfy me is if my daughter came back and if I could turn back time and prevent this from happening. But I can't."
Odom said this about his client after the sentencing. "He's always maintained that it was an accident, that he was trying to take the gun away from her.He's realizing that his life will never be the same — that he'll probably spend the rest of his adult life in the penitentiary. He vows that someday he'll be exonerated."
The Cantu children, the true victims of this crime, are being cared for by both sets of grandparents.

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