From the witness stand of a Rockwall County courtroom, Isabel Aguilar said she wanted everyone to know of her sister’s strength and independence.
“I just want for those who don’t know her story, she knew how short life was, and how at any time life can be taken away from us,” Aguilar said of Jessica Aguilar.
Jessica Aguilar’s husband was killed in a tragic accident in 2004, leaving her to care for children ages nine, eight and one-month.
Then, on Feb. 16, her life was “taken away” when she was gunned down at the Harbor in Rockwall by her ex-boyfriend, a former Hunt County constable.
Isabel Aguilar told her sister’s story in 439th District Court after Judge David Rakow sentenced Anthony Dewayne Lewis to 60 years in prison for Aguilar’s murder and 15 years imprisonment for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting of her companion, Francisco Delacruz.
The sentences were the result of a plea bargain arrangement after Lewis entered guilty pleas to both charges.
The murder victim’s sister and several other family members read victim impact letters after sentencing.
Criminal District Attorney Kenda Culpepper said victim impact letters allow victims of serious crimes to directly address a defendant in the courtroom immediately after sentencing.
“It is often a cathartic experience for the victims, allowing them, and/or their families, to safely express how the crime has affected them emotionally, physically, psychologically and financially,” said Culpepper, who was lead prosecutor in the case.
“I often encourage victims and their families to take advantage of this opportunity to be heard. I find it gives them some sense of closure, allowing them to express in their own words how the crime has dramatically and traumatically affected their lives and the lives of the people around them.”
Aguilar said she “watched her sister mourn and struggle to get to her feet” after her husband was killed. She never asked for help from anyone, the sister said.
She vowed to buy a home and rear her children the best she could.
“She bought a home in Dallas (and) we also did. We were about eight minutes from each other,” she added.
“Times as we know started to change,” she continued. “Rockwall became (the) new home for her and her kids. She wanted a better life for her kids (in) a different environment. I also bought my home in Rowlett. We were about five minutes from each other.”
She then turned her comments from her sister to the man who murdered her.
“I have no sympathy for you whatsoever and will never understand how you could take from these three kids what they had left, their mother,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy to teach the kids to learn to trust the world and the people around them. I can’t stand that you took the moments that were meant for her. I know you have no heart and knew it from the start that I met you.”
Daughter Arcieli Puente said her mother’s death has left “a hole in my heart that will never be filled.
“You took away what was becoming my best friend, just when my mom and I started becoming close, just when I started to actually have a good mother-daughter relationship, you took her away from me, away from my family,” she said to Lewis.
She continued: “Who was supposed to take me prom dress shopping, wave at me as I walked the stage on my graduation, or even be there when I opened my acceptance letter to my university, to cry when saying ‘bye’ to me when I started college like most parents do? But I didn’t get to experience any of that.”
She told Lewis that he would have to live the rest of his life dealing with what he has done, “but I have no sympathy for you, never will.
“Holding a grudge is not an option either because God is my strength and He gives me the strength to be the bigger person here. Isn’t it sad that an 18-year-old is more mature than you are?”
Santos Aguilar, the victim’s brother, told Lewis his crime not only affected a family of three children, “but has affected an entire community with a reputation of peace and order. Thou shall not kill.
He pointed out that three children depended on Aguilar for food, shelter and “a love that only a mother can give.
“My sister had multiple gunshot wounds, including the area of her hands. She was pleading for mercy and the right to live her life in happiness. Thou shall not kill. On a clear, sunny day, in a busy restaurant district, you confronted Jessica with a firearm, shooting and killing her and attempting to murder a second. Thou shall not kill.
“Next, you decide to run, run and run. You communicated to law enforcement officials that you were armed and dangerous. You took an oath to serve and protect … You are the evil villain that disrespects and disobeys the same laws you are supposed to obey …”
Lewis was stoic during most of this phase of the trial.
He looked at each family as they delivered their emotional speeches. Sometimes he bowed his head briefly and several times he dabbed his eyes with a tissue.
Several times, he made only brief eye contact with his family members who sat behind him during the proceedings.