Three people — including a mother and son — have pleaded guilty to murder in a November 2012 attack against a 16-year-old boy that relatives and close friends have said arose out of a long-standing dispute between families over money.
Christina Reynero, 37, was the last to accept a plea agreement Wednesday and was sentenced to five years in prison in the killing of Jorge Medina Jr., who died in a hospital days after he was struck with metal poles and sticks in a Southeast Austin neighborhood.
Her 18-year-old son, Juan Jose Reynero, and another man, Arthur Estrada III — who turned 20 this week — accepted plea deals on March 5 and were sentenced to 16 years and 12 years in prison, respectively. The case of a fourth unnamed juvenile involved, a younger son of Christina Reynero, remains pending.
The adults charged faced up to life in prison.
Witnesses reported that a group of people, including four women and a 14-year-old boy, assaulted Medina and his friends on the street in the 2000 block of Uphill Lane, near Riverside Drive and Ben White Boulevard, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. After Medina was knocked to the ground, he tried to get up, but he was hit in the face by other attackers wielding metal poles and sticks, records said.
Medina was unconscious while he was stomped and beaten, and friends had to pull him across the street to get him away from his attackers, the affidavit said. Christina Reynero, who witnesses said hit Medina with a board, arrived at a hospital with injuries from the fight, it said.
Her defense lawyer, Mindy Montford, said her client sustained the wounds when Medina’s girlfriend drove through the crowd to disperse the fight. The defense lawyer said the state believed Christina Reynero was a party to the murder but did not deal the deadly blow to Medina, whom an autopsy revealed died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.
The mother has always admitted she struck Medina one time in the back before the fight broke out, the attorney said.
“My client believed she was defending her son,” Montford said. “The victim did fall back, and the fight ensued, but in our opinion she was not part of that fight.”
The case took time to resolve because so many people were involved, the attorney said. Investigators at one point believed Medina’s fatal injuries could have been caused when he was struck by the car.
Prosecutors declined comment on the case.
At the time of the assault, friends and relatives of Medina remembered him as an outgoing boy who liked to draw, play basketball and write rap songs. Medina’s mother, Maria Rivas, said her son provided and cared for her and his 15-year-old brother, whom he protected against bullying.
The fight, they said, was one that should have remained among the adults.