Cold Justice is currently seeking unsolved homicide cases.
By Murray Newman
Since 1999, Murray Newman has practiced criminal law, handling cases from DWI to Capital Murder and everything in between. He serves as a consultant for Cold Justice. Follow him on Twitter and visit his blog.
The senseless murder of Rocky Bryant shocked the small community of Seagraves, Texas. A man who appeared to have no enemies, he had been ambushed in a brutal and cowardly attack at his place of work. Normally a random attack like this would seem to indicate that robbery was a motive, but there was no indication that any property had been stolen from him.
Because the robbery motive was obviously non-existent, it was only natural for the investigators to focus their attention on those people in Rocky’s life who knew him and might possibly have a motive for wanting him dead. As in most cases like these, the natural first suspect was the victim’s wife, Patricia Graves.
There was no belief by the investigators that Patricia had been the person who had physically attacked Rocky, but in Texas, a person can still be charged with a crime as a “Party” to the offense. A person is a Party to an Offense if, while intending that a crime be committed, they directed, solicited, encouraged, aided or attempted to aid the crime. As the investigators dug into Patricia Graves’ background, it became clear that she was having an extra-marital affair and she had reason to want to be free of her husband.
Unlike Patricia Graves, her boyfriend Luis Villarreal was a very viable suspect as being the person who had killed Rocky. He was younger and physically fit. He was also known to have a very hot temper and had a history of being highly possessive of women he was seeing.
Both Luis and Patricia had long been the primary suspects to the original investigators but they still needed additional evidence to file their cases. The renewed investigation by those police officers and the Cold Justice team gave a textbook example of how cold case investigation is done.
The re-interviewing of witnesses at the crime scene helped Yolanda develop new details of how the crime had been committed and the path Rocky’s attacker had taken when he fled the scene. This led to the corroboration and helpful description by one of the witnesses, Eddie Singleton, who provided a more detailed account of the man he saw running away from the scene. Going out into the Seagraves community and interviewing all the witnesses that could possibly have information led to new witnesses who had heard Luis making incriminatory statements about his involvement.
And then, of course, there were all those lies. As Kelly has shown time and time again in her career, in cold cases, it is the lies and the cover-ups that usually get a suspect caught. Both Luis and Patricia told constantly changing stories about their relationship with each other and the more their stories changed, the more suspicious they looked. Ultimately even Patricia had to give in and say she suspected Luis of committing the murder.
Although Patricia denied her involvement, the circumstantial evidence against her is high. She had the motive and the ability to tell Luis the details of Rocky’s morning routine. Ultimately, District Attorney Michael Munk and the Gaines County Grand Jury found probable cause to indict Patricia Graves as a Party to the murder, alongside her former boyfriend, Luis Villarreal.
Blog entries are the opinions of their authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of TNT.