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Update: Delay Filed in Philen Trial

The judge presiding over the murder trial of Matthew Scott Navarro, the fourth suspect in the 2009 murder of Ronald Philen of Brownwood, has filed for a delay.
01/27/14 Update: Judge Files Trial Delay

The judge presiding over the murder trial of Matthew Scott Navarro, the fourth suspect in the 2009 murder of Ronald Philen of Brownwood, has filed for a delay.

The trial was set to begin Monday, January 27, but has been rescheduled for June 2.

The prosecution was unable to supply a taped interview the defense had requested, thus resulting in the delay. The prosecution believes the delay will allow them the time needed to recover a hard copy of the interview, though this is not entirely certain. 

11/8/13 Update:
Navarro Pretrial Begins

The pretrial for the fourth suspect in the 2009 murder of Brownwood resident Ronald Philen began Friday morning.

The hearing is in regards to what evidence is available and permissable in the case of Matthew Scott Navarro. The defense has filed several motions to surpress evidence.

We will have more as the hearing continues.

11/5/13 12:20 p.m. Update:
Rocha Found Guilty

The jury has found Pedro Rocha guilty of Capital Murder in the 2009 death of Ronald Philen.

The prosecution chose not to seek the death penalty, so Rocha will receive a mandatory life sentence. 

11/5/13 11:18 a.m. Update:

Closing arguments are over and the jury is deliberating.

Before handing it over to the jury, the prosecution argued that the evidence against Rocha as one of those involved in the crime was so powerful, it "bent the bars of a prison and set [Randall] Philen free."

11/5/13 Update

Closing arguments are underway in the Philen murder trial.

The prosecution is asking the jury to convict Pedro Rocha on murder charges for the death of Ronald Philen in 2009.

The prosecution is arguing that mistakes were made in the trial that originally convicted Philen’s brother, Randall, of the murder, before the conviction was later overturned. They are arguing that the lead detective assigned to the case, Robert Mullins, had mistakenly misinterpreted the evidence and that Rocha should be convicted as the third of four men who entered the Philen home that night and killed Robert.

The defense is arguing that Randall Philen killed his brother, and the other two men, Efrain Castillo III and Alex Lucky Gil, Jr., gave false confessions.

The defense is saying the evidence does not support four intruders entering the home, and that the home was not ransacked, though Randall Philen claimed four men broke in and ransacked the home while looking for pot. The defense also alleges that Randal Philen had no bruising, though he claimed to be struck multiple times by the intruders.

We will have more information as this trial unfolds.

11/4/13 Update

The defense called to the stand Monday the detective that was first on the scene after the murder of Ronald Philen in 2009.

In cross-examination, the prosecution questioned the detective about the original evidence that had been brought against Philen's brother, Randall, who was originally convicted of the crime before further evidence overturned it.

The prosecution attempted to show that new evidence could explain things that originally seemed out of place, making it look like Randall had staged the home invasion: the stiffness of the body suggesting the victim had been there longer than Randall Philen had claimed, blood that already seemed dry, and wood chips from a kicked in bedroom door that were close enough to the crime, they should have had blood on them, confirming the blood was already dry when the door was kicked in.

The prosecution showed the detective pictures of what looked like blood on the wood chips, but the detective denied it, arguing it was discolorations in the wood, not blood stains.

We will have more as the trial continues.

11/1/13 Update

The prosecution has rested its case.

Their last witness was the forensic scientist, she was able to identify the fingerprints of Alex Lucky Gil Jr. and Pedro Rocha on Ronald Philen's door panel.

The defense was about to ask the sister of Ronald and Randall Philen, Penny Lawson, questions. Lawson spoke about the relationship between Roland and Randal.

With the new evidence, she no longer believes Randa. All she wants is closure for her family and justice for her brother.

The case will continue will continue on Monday. The defense will finish questioning Police Sergeant Troy Carroll and one more witness.

More witnesses may be recalled.

10/31/13 Update

The trial of Pedro Rocha, third of the four men accused in the murder of Ronald Philen, continued Thursday.

The state showed a video made of a conversation between Efrain Castillo and Alex Gil, both of who plead guilty earlier in the year in order to receive a plea deal.

Police allowed Gil to speak with Castillo two days after Gil had confessed to the murder.

Police told Gil that Castillo wasn't cooperating, so Gil suggested that he speak with him.

Following a conversation about the events that occurred the night of the murder, and the consequences if convicted, Gil leaves. Castillo then confesses to the detective that he was involved.

Castillo claimed he did not know a murder would occur that night. He claims he heard five loud pops, then Pedro Rocha and Mathew Navarro ran out of the house, and he and Gil followed.

Castillo claims he did not know what happened until he asked when the four were gathered back in the car.

After a recess, Dr. Nizam Peerwani, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Ronald Philen, was questioned.

The autopsy ruled that Philen had been shot five times from close range, and pictures of the autopsy were shown to the jurors.

10/30/13 Update

The trial of Pedro Rocha, the third of four suspects in the 2009 murder of Ronald Philen, has taken a brief recess. The detective who was on scene that night took the stand Wednesday.

Video of the crime scene was also shown to the jury.

We will have further details as the trial continues.

Original Story

The trial of the third Brownwood man charged with the 2009 capital murder of 49-year-old Ronald Philen continues Tuesday.

Efrain Castillo III, Alex Lucky Gil, Jr., Mathew Scott Navarro and Pedro Rocha were arrested in early January of 2012 for the murder of Philen. Castillo and Gil both plead guilty and agreed to cooperate in the trials of Rocha and Navarro in exchange for a 40 year sentence with the possibility of parole.

Ronald Philen's brother, 50-year-old Randall Philen, was previously convicted of the crime after a nine-day trial on Nov. 22, 2011. At that time Brownwood District Attorney Micheal Murray stated that the fatal shooting that took place at the brothers' home on Dec. 11, 2009 was "an act of rage" and was "a most heinous crime in a bitter betrayal."

Randall Philen received a sentence of life in prison for the murder and two years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division, for a felony marijuana charge. The sentences were to run concurrently.

The case suddenly took a twist and was reopened in December. More evidence was presented to law enforcement which led to the arrest of two 21-year-old men, Pedro Rocha and Alex Lucky Gil, Jr. on Jan. 10, 2012. According to the district attorney Micheal Murray, information that substantiated Randall Philen's claim that armed gunmen murdered his brother while Randall was tied up in another room of the same house was brought to Murray's office by a confidential witness.

After an extensive investigation, the victim's brother, Randall Philen, was released from prison on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 and District Judge Stephen Ellis signed a court order granting Philen a new trial.

Tuesday, October 29, Randall Philen testified in the trial of the third of the four accused, Pedro Rocha. Philen claimed he was tied up in the kitchen, kicked in the side and hit on the head with a gun by the intruders while he heard what sounded like a scuffle in his brother’s room. He said it sounded like the intruders were trying to get information from his brother. Philen then testified that he heard his brother gasp, then later heard gun shots.

The intruders then reentered the kitchen and asked Randall Philen where the weed and the money were. According to Philen, they left after accidentally saying the name, “Alex” while deciding what to do next. Philen says he pled for his life, but for whatever reason, the intruders thought better of it and left him alone, exiting the home.

This is a continuing story and we will have more as it develops.


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