After three years of delays, Seth Winder will be tried next week for Richard Hernandez’s murder
JOHN WRIGHT | Senior Political Writer
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.