Trial set in gay man’s 2008 murder

After three years of delays, Seth Winder will be tried next week for  Richard Hernandez’s murder

hernandez.Richard

Richard Hernandez

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

DENTON — More than three years after gay Dallas resident Richard Hernandez disappeared, his accused killer is set to stand trial next week.

Authorities believe the 38-year-old Hernandez was murdered and dismembered inside his Far North Dallas apartment in early September 2008, but they never found his remains.

Seth Lawton Winder, 32, is charged with first-degree murder and faces up to life in prison.

Winder’s trial has been delayed numerous times, but Jamie Beck, first assistant district attorney for Denton County, said this week she’s confident it will go forward next week, with jury selection set for Monday, Nov. 14.

“Everybody wants a swifter and quicker justice, but you’ve got to do it right,” Beck said, referring to the delays. “Bottom line, we want justice, so if that means it takes a while, then so be it.”

Rudy Araiza, who was a close friend of Hernandez’s and is also gay, said he’s looking forward to Winder’s trial.

“I hope that we get justice finally after three years of waiting,” Araiza said. “For me it’ll be, I hope, closure.”

Araiza said he hopes Winder receives the maximum sentence of life in prison.

“Just as long as he’s away and out of the public view, and away where he won’t be able to hurt anyone else,” Araiza said.

Winder’s father, Rodney Winder, agreed, saying he wants “justice served and Seth away where he cannot hurt anyone.”

Rodney Winder and his wife, Karen Dilbeck, have said they repeatedly tried to get help for Seth, who suffers from schizophrenia, in the months prior to Hernandez’s murder. Dilbeck would later publish a book about the case, which was also the subject of an episode of A&E’s The First 48.

A judge initially found Seth Winder incompetent to stand trial, but he’s since been restored to competency.

It’s unclear what type of relationship existed between Hernandez and Winder. But police recovered a digital camera containing pornographic images of Winder that were taken inside Hernandez’s apartment.

When Hernandez failed to show up at his job at Wal-Mart, authorities went to the apartment on Rosemeade Parkway and discovered large amounts of blood on the floor, walls and couch — in addition to tissue from internal organs in the bathtub.

Police concluded that Winder placed the rest of Hernandez’s remains in a Dumpster, which had already been emptied and its contents buried in a landfill.

Purchases made on Hernandez’s debit card led police to Winder. They found blood-covered evidence including a sword at two campsites where Winder had been staying.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Jury selection to start soon in trial of gay teen’s alleged killer

Associated Press

VENTURA, Calif. — A Ventura County judge has ruled that jurors from neighboring Santa Barbara County will be chosen for the upcoming trial of a teen accused of killing a gay classmate.

Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell said Monday, Aug. 23 that the trial of 16-year-old Brandon McInerney will remain in Ventura County. McInerney’s attorneys had been seeking a change of venue.

McInerney is charged with murdering 15-year-old Larry King in February 2008. He is being tried in adult court.

Campbell on Thursday, Aug. 26 will give more details about when jury selection will take place.

—  John Wright

Judge won’t be recused from Lawrence King murder trial

Associated Press

VENTURA, Calif. — A judge has denied a defense motion to disqualify a Ventura County judge from the trial of a middle school student accused of murdering a gay classmate.

Prosecutor Maeve Fox said Monday, Aug. 2 that San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Burke ruled against the recusal motion filed by lawyers for 16-year-old Brandon McInerney.

McInerney is charged with murdering 15-year-old Larry King in February 2008.

Defense attorney, Scott Wippert, argued that Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell wasn’t fair with his rulings that favored the prosecution.

Campbell filed his own declaration to deny that he’s prejudiced against the defendant.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Wednesday, but Fox said she has a scheduling conflict.

—  John Wright