HOUSTON — Houston police are searching for a man accused of using his steel-toe work boots to beat his pregnant girlfriend to death in front of her 8-year-old son.
Alexis Armando Rojas-Mendez, 22, is wanted for felony murder in the Saturday killing of Ashley Garcia.
Garcia leaves behind three children: Camila, Luis and Billy, the news station reported. It was unclear Thursday if all three of her children were home when she was slain.
In the state’s motion for sufficient bail, prosecutors describe aggravating facts in the case.
“Defendant beat his female partner to death, who is pregnant, and leaves the dead victim in bed with his son to sleep with,” the document states. “Defendant is trying to get money to leave the country. He is not a U.S. citizen.”
Houston police Detective Sgt. Steven Murdock wrote in a probable cause affidavit that officers and fire medics were called to the scene after Garcia’s 8-year-old son, Billy, went to his neighbors' apartment around 6 a.m. and knocked on the door, asking for help waking his mother.
The couple followed the boy home and found Garcia in bed with severe head trauma. They called 911 and a dispatcher talked one neighbor through CPR chest compressions until medics arrived.
“Once (Houston Fire Department) arrived, it was apparent to them that she had been dead for several hours,” Murdock wrote.
When officers arrived, they noted the head trauma, as well as blood on the walls and floor throughout the apartment.
“I have worked many homicide cases and based on my training and experience, and from my observations of the scene of the crime and the victim of the crime, it is my opinion that the decedent met her death as a result of blunt force trauma to the head,” Murdock wrote.
The detective saw no other injures on Garcia’s body, and her son told investigators she had been well and uninjured the day before.
Billy identified Garcia for officers and said that “his father’s name was Alexis, but he did not know his father’s last name,” the affidavit states. According to Garcia’s family, Rojas-Mendez is not the boy’s biological father.
Billy told investigators that Rojas-Mendez told him Friday night that his mother was asleep and not to wake her.
Rojas-Mendez told the boy “he had to go to work but when he came back, they would be going on a trip far away,” the affidavit says.
The neighbors who discovered Garcia’s body told investigators they heard arguing through the walls the night before but did not call 911.
Neighbors told investigators that Rojas-Mendez, who they knew by sight but not by name, had moved into the apartment, along with Garcia and her son, a few months before the killing. According to court documents, Eric Green, who lives in the building next door, said he witnessed a violent argument between Garcia and Rojas-Mendez on Friday night in the parking lot of the complex.
Green said he saw Rojas-Mendez beat Garcia and try to force her and a young boy into a black Jeep. He told police he recognized the Jeep as the vehicle Garcia always drove into and out of the complex.
When the woman refused to get in the car, Rojas-Mendez struck her several times with a cellphone and dragged her up the stairs to their third-floor apartment.
From his balcony, Green saw Rojas-Mendez force Garcia and the boy into the apartment, then “he could hear what sounded like pounding noises coming from inside the apartment,” the affidavit states.
Garcia’s son later told interviewers at the Children’s Assessment Center that the noises were his mother being beaten with a steel-toe work boot. Billy told Garcia’s sister, Yessenia Garcia, that he had seen Rojas-Mendez hitting his mom in the head and stomach with the footwear.
Read the affidavit for Rojas-Mendez’s arrest below.
The manager of the apartment complex was able to provide detectives with Rojas-Mendez’s identity, Murdock wrote. Billy, when shown a copy of Rojas-Mendez’s Mexican voter identification card, told detectives, “That’s Alexis.”
Detectives at the apartment complex were approached by Rojas-Mendez’s sister, Karen Rojas, who lives in Conroe, about 40 miles north of Houston. Rojas told investigators her brother had called her around 4:42 a.m. Saturday asking to borrow money “so he could go work a job out of town.”
Because her brother already owed her $800, Rojas refused. She later called another sister, who said Rojas-Mendez had also called her asking for cash.
“Karen Rojas told me that her brother, Alex Mendez, sounded stressed out and she continued to ask him what was wrong, but he refused to tell her and instead, hung up on her several times,” the affidavit states.
Rojas called their mother in Mexico, but the older woman said she had not heard from her son.
Rojas is described as a Hispanic male with black hair and brown eyes. He is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds, according to court records.
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