Jun 19, 2023
Edinburg woman’s trial over allegations she killed newlywed husband underway
EDINBURG — A 38-year-old Elsa woman voluntarily told an Edinburg mental health
EDINBURG — A 38-year-old Elsa woman voluntarily told an Edinburg mental health police officer that she was going to be arrested because her husband, who she's accused of shooting in the back of his head, was abusive and would force her to hold his gun.
And that's why her fingerprints would be found on the gun used in the shooting, the officer testified.
Lucinda Amalia Diaz, a former special education teacher for the Weslaco school district, is on trial for the death of her husband, 31-year-old Craig Chastain, who she claims shot himself on Sept. 5, 2020, at their apartment at The Village Apartments at 5228 S. Sugar Road following a "stupid argument."
She has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder and has maintained her innocence since her arrest.
During opening statements, prosecutors described Diaz as a manipulative, controlling and jealous person who killed Chastain after he decided to leave her and that evidence would show that her story is inconsistent, they said, alleging that she murdered her husband of a few months.
The state claimed that Diaz tossed a set of keys into the kitchen in order to distract Chastain before she shot him in the back of the head.
Defense Attorney Juan Tijerina argued that testimony would reveal that Chastain had anger issues, was depressed and suffered from anxiety.
He added that the investigation was biased from the start due to an investigator knowing Chastain from high school and that evidence would show that Diaz had nothing to do with her husband's death.
During the first day of the trial, the jury heard testimony from seven witnesses which consisted of the first responding officers and Diaz and Chastain's former co-workers.
A former co-worker of Chastain's from his time at the Palm Valley Animal Society, Andelyn Faye Yanez, testified that Chastain was very humorous and fun to work with.
"I remember Craig being a happy person," Yanez said.
She told the jury that Chastain seemed very much in love with Diaz and had a "twinkle" in his eye when he found out he was going to be a dad.
The relationship between Diaz and Chastain was considered "fast-paced" due to them dating, marrying and conceiving a child together in the span of less than a year.
Diaz's former co-worker, Maria Strickland, told the court that she had confronted her about this once and suggested she slow down, but that Diaz told her that she had found the love of her life.
Strickland called Diaz by phone after Diaz sent a text to her department's group chat stating that he had killed himself.
She testified that Diaz told her that Chastain went to their bedroom after an argument and while Diaz was in the living room, she heard loud banging so she went to the room to find that her husband had shot himself and attempted to stop the bleeding.
She also testified that she met with Diaz the following day and spoke in her car for about 30 minutes. Strickland testified that Diaz was asking if God would forgive her and later said she asked because it was her fault they got into an argument that led him to shoot himself.
Another co-worker, Gennifer Galvan, testified that Diaz said she witnessed her husband shoot himself after he walked into the room she was in.
At approximately 9:28 p.m., both Edinburg police officers Marcos Oscar Perez and Maurice Alleyne arrived at the scene and found a "distraught" Diaz outside her apartment complex.
Alleyne testified that he noticed Diaz had dried blood on her shoes.
Perez, who entered the apartment with Diaz, noticed Chastain's body at the doorway and observed the gun to be on a wooden tray on the couch several feet away from the body and that "areas" of the pooled blood around the body had "thickened."
"It looked dried up," Perez said.
When questioned how he knew the difference, Perez said that it was due to experience, testifying that even in fatal vehicle collisions that took him several minutes to arrive at, the blood from victims would still be fresh and running.
Perez and Alleyne both testified that it took them about five minutes to get to Diaz once she had called 911.
That call was played for the jury.
In it, Diaz sounded frantic, claiming that Chastain had tried to kill himself by dropping a vase on his head, which was later determined to be a ceramic water dispenser.
Diaz apologizes to Chastain, states she wants to die and then reveals to the operator that he shot himself, to the surprise of the operator who then asked where the gun was, which Diaz couldn't answer.
At the trial, Diaz began to cry following the 911 call and lost composure in front of the jury. The judge called a recess in order to give time to Diaz to gather herself.
Alleyne, who is a mental health officer at the Edinburg Police Department, later testified that he transported Diaz to an emergency room on Sept. 17, 2020, where they had a conversation.
In that conversation, Alleyne stated that Diaz "voluntarily" told him that Chastain was abusive toward her, that he had ripped the head of a teddy bear he had given her and that he would force her to hold his gun.
Testimony is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning.
Here's day two of Lucinda Amalia Diaz's trial:
Autopsy shows Elsa woman's husband was shot in the head at close range