Illegal immigrant accused of dumping body over bridge

Illegal immigrant accused of dumping body over bridge

Just a few days before Christmas 2011, police found the body of an unknown Hispanic male floating in the Intracoastal Waterway adjacent to State Highway 87 in Port Arthur.

Now, a little more than two years later, police say they’ve found the men responsible for the death.

Alberto Bacho Solis, an illegal Mexican immigrant, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury May 10, 2012, in the first-degree murder of a man police later identified as Ubaldo Santiago Hernandez, also an illegal Mexican immigrant.

According to an affidavit for arrest warrant obtained by The Examiner, police responded to the Intracoastal Waterway bridge near State Highway 87 after a tug boat crewman reported coyotes had surrounded what appeared to be a body floating against the bank.

According to a detective with the Port Arthur Police Department who authored the affidavit, “Upon close examination of the skull, it became apparent that some type of weapon had been used to strike the skull. The damage inflicted by this weapon included obvious creases into the skull indicative of an edged weapon with substantial mass. I observed several points across the upper forehead that suffered strikes from this weapon. One strike from the weapon caused a readily observable fracture to the skull. ... The victim had been beaten severely about the face. No decomposition whatsoever was observed upon the body.”

Once the body was transferred to the morgue, the detective noticed blood on the northbound shoulder of the bridge.

“The blood trail left the roadway surface, went up the retaining wall and continued over the wall and onto the electrical conduit over the edge of the wall on the water side of the wall. Something or someone bloody had been dragged over this wall and apparently tossed into the Intracoastal Waterway,” the detective said.

The detective said he was present at Ubaldo’s autopsy and learned the deceased man was alive but  unconscious when tossed over the bridge.

“The injuries to the head were not fatal,” the detective said. “The victim died of drowning. There was bleeding upon the brain that occurred prior to the victim drowning. Therefore, the victim was alive when placed into the water.”

It seems Port Arthur’s Hispanic community rallied to bring Ubaldo’s killers to justice, as Port Arthur police received a tip less than a week after the body was found that led them directly to Solis’ home, where he lived with co-defendant Candido Rodriguez Juarez.

Solis and Juarez consented to being questioned by police and also consented to allow police to search Juarez’s black Ford F-350.

“As soon as I opened the back door of said truck, I observed considerable blood spatter upon the headliner above the rear seat,” the detective said. “I asked Juarez how the blood got there and he advised that he cut his finger.”

The detective wasn’t buying Juarez’s story, as the amount of blood inside the F-350 was consistent with “serious bodily injuries, if not fatal injuries,” according to the affidavit.

Once at the station, the two men came clean to police.

According to the affidavit, after they were Mirandized, Juarez admitted to getting into a fight with Cruz and striking him with an unknown sharp tool. Solis admitted to assisting Juarez in throwing Ubaldo off the bridge and into the Intracoastal Canal while Ubaldo was still unconscious, the affidavit said.

According to a prosecutor familiar with the case, Juarez has already pleaded guilty to his part in Ubaldo’s murder, receiving 25 years in Judge Layne Walker’s 252nd Criminal District Court on June 3, 2013.

Now, the prosecutor says it’s Solis’ turn.

The prosecutor said they plan to offer the same sentence to Solis as they did Juarez: 25 years.

“That’s what the offer is now,” the prosecutor said.

Part of the reason Jefferson County officials took so long to bring Solis and Juarez to justice is the illegal status of the two men along with their victim.

“Because everyone involved in this is a non-citizen. ... No one wants to get deported,” the prosecutor said. “There was another issue: trying to identify him (the victim). Because he was illegal, he’s undocumented, so we don’t have fingerprints, teeth records, driver’s license, birth certificate. We didn’t have any of those things to use to identify this person, so that took a little while.

“I think they actually went to the Mexican consulate in Houston to get help with that,” the prosecutor said.

Although prosecutors still don’t know exactly what kind of weapon was used in the killing, they’re confident their case is solid.

“I don’t know if they were able to identify the object that struck him, but they said it was a tool,” the prosecutor said. “Which would be reasonable, something easily accessible to anyone. A hammer, a pick, a tire tool, something.”

Although it won’t help his prospects for getting a lesser sentence, the prosecutor said they expect Juarez to testify against Solis.

“The co-defendant, we would have him testify against him (Solis), if he’s willing to,” the prosecutor said.

Solis is set to appear for trial in Judge Layne Walker’s 252nd Criminal District Court May 5.

He was arrested Dec. 24, 2011, and is currently in federal custody. Solis’ bond is $750,000.