Trial opens for man charged in '94 deaths

Prosecution calls first witness, a Texas Ranger.

By Zeke MacCormack, San Antonio Express News

Updated 01:40 a.m., Wednesday, April 6, 2011

HONDO — Seventeen years after the disappearance of San Antonio residents Andrea Truax and Raymond “Alex” Morales, a trial began here Tuesday for one of two men charged with their slayings.

Authorities say the couple were shot to death April 24, 1994, and buried at the Medina County ranch of Manuel Rodriguez, who struck a plea deal and agreed to testify at this week's trial of Gregory Lopez II, 53, of Rankin.

Lopez pleaded not guilty to capital murder Tuesday before state District Court Judge Mickey Pennington.

Prosecutor Bethany Stephens told jurors in opening remarks that Morales, 42, and Truax, 29, were drug dealers slain by Lopez and Rodriguez over unpaid debts for drugs and concerns they may snitch to police.

The first witness, Texas Ranger Ronn “Trampas” Gooding, testified that his 2008 investigation of the “cold” missing persons cases of Morales and Truax quickly led to anecdotal evidence that they'd been slain.

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