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Wednesday, May 13, 1998
Valley woman convicted in murder-for-hire trial
By MARK BABINECK / Associated Press Writer
HOUSTON (AP) -- A federal jury on Tuesday convicted a Brownsville
woman in the murder-for-hire plot that resulted in the death of
her daughter's ex-boyfriend.
Dora Cisneros, who was accused of hatching a plot in which
telephone calls and travel from Mexico were involved in the 1993
death of 18-year-old Joey Fischer, had no visible reaction to
the verdict. The victim's mother and stepmother sobbed at the
decision, which came after about three hours of deliberations.
"We're relieved," said Vernon "Beau" Nelson,
Fischer's stepfather. "This woman is a murderer of children.
She needs to be put away. Joey finally got some justice today."
Joey Fischer broke off his relationship with Mrs. Cisneros'
youngest daughter in the summer of 1992. On March 3, 1993, he
was shot to death in the driveway of his home as he washed off
his car before school.
Mrs. Cisneros was sentenced to life in prison in 1994 following
a murder conviction in state court. However, an error in jury
instructions won her an acquittal from an appeals court in 1996.
To make a federal case, prosecutors this time had to prove
Mrs. Cisneros was involved in a plot that included travel and
phone calls from nearby Mexico. She didn't need to know about
the "foreign commerce" under the statute.
She could face up to life in prison when she is sentenced July
27 in Houston. Until then, she'll remain at the nearby Montgomery
County Jail without bond.
"My son's murderer is going where she belongs," said
A.J. Fischer, the boy's father. "We've been here before.
Hopefully what was done today, will stand."
Mrs. Cisneros' family and defense attorneys declined to comment
on the verdict. Prosecutor Assistant U.S. Attorney Mervyn Mosbacker
said he was pleased with the quick decision.
In both trials, prosecutors presented witnesses who testified
that Mrs. Cisneros first asked a folk healer to cast a fatal spell
on Fischer for breaking up with her daughter. The fortuneteller,
Maria Mercedes Martinez, says she declined, prompting Mrs. Cisneros
to inquire if Ms. Martinez knew anyone who could kill Fischer.
That's when Ms. Martinez set the wheels in motion through Daniel
Garza, a lovelorn San Antonio housepainter who had sought Ms.
Martinez' help for marital troubles.
Ms. Martinez, 77, is serving a 20-year prison term for her
Garza, serving a life sentence for finding the two gunmen who
shot Fischer, testified he discussed the plot with the folk healer
during four phone calls he made from Mexico. However, there is
no documentation the calls were made.
Also, prosecutors said testimony by U.S. Customs officials,
a motel manager and witnesses at the crime scene pinpointed a
white car driven by the suspected gunmen as having come over from
Mexico the day before the shooting.
"All we have to prove is somebody came from Mexico to
the United States to commit this murder. And we did that,"
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mervyn Mosbacker told jurors in his final
Despite 5-1/2 days of testimony and piles of circumstantial
evidence, lead defense attorney Tony Canales told jurors they
hadn't seen enough proof to meet federal standards.
"I submit to you that a clear conscience dictates that
proof beyond a reasonable doubt was not met," he told the
jury. "Whether you like it or not ... you've got to do the
The suspected killers are jailed in Mexico and did not appear
in the courtroom in Houston, where the case was moved by U.S.
District Judge Filemon Vela because of intense publicity in the
Rio Grande Valley.
Mrs. Cisneros did not testify in her own defense.
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