Texas Man Acquitted After Killing Escort Who Wouldn’t Have Sex With Him

This, apparently, what amounts to Texas Justice:

A Bexar County jury on Wednesday acquitted Ezekiel Gilbert of murder in the death of a 23-year-old Craigslist escort.

Gilbert, 30, embraced defense attorneys Bobby Barrera and Roy Barrera Sr. with tears in his eyes after the not guilty verdict was read aloud by state District Judge Mary Román.

The verdict came after almost 11 hours of deliberations that stretched over two days. The trial began May 17 but had a long hiatus after a juror unexpectedly had to leave town for a funeral.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Gilbert’s defense team conceded the shooting did occur but said the intent wasn’t to kill. Gilbert’s actions were justified, they argued, because he was trying to retrieve stolen property: the $150 he paid Frago. It became theft when she refused to have sex with him or give the money back, they said.

Gilbert testified earlier Tuesday that he had found Frago’s escort ad on Craigslist and believed sex was included in her $150 fee. But instead, Frago walked around his apartment and after about 20 minutes left, saying she had to give the money to her driver, he said.

That driver, the defense contended, was Frago’s pimp and her partner in the theft scheme.

The acquittal appears to be based on this provision of Texas’ Penal Code:

A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

(1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or

(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and

(3) he reasonably believes that:

(A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or

(B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

Leaving aside what the statute says and the merits of such a defense of property law, it strikes me as utterly bizarre that this guy could hire a woman for the purposes of paying for sex, itself an illegal act, and then be justified in shooting and killing her when she won’t have sex with him.  To say that there’s just something that isn’t right about the outcome of this case is to put it mildly.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    It’s Texas.

    Enough said.

  2. EddieInCA says:

    Mr. Mataconis –

    Can the family now sue for wrongful death, and get a civil judgement?

  3. James Joyner says:

    Leaving aside the prurient details, he’s essentially shooting her to prevent the theft of $150. That seems crazy to me but that’s apparently legal in Texas—at least when it’s dark outside. But it’s not more legal if she happens to be a reluctant hooker.

  4. legion says:

    Well, as Eddie says, it’s Texas – where it’s codified into law that, in 100% of all situations, money is more important than human life. Property, doubly so. Why do you think the oil companies love it so much there?

  5. Boyd says:

    First off, it’s certainly a sad state of affairs (no pun intended, believe it or not) that this woman lost her life in this incident.

    Secondly, and OTOH, she could have returned the man’s money upon his demand, since she clearly did nothing to earn it. This option became even more obvious once the man expressed his displeasure while holding a gun.

    And lastly, and I say this in all openness, honesty and sincerity, if this aspect of Texas law bothers anyone, then they would be well-advised to steer clear of Texas to begin with.

  6. legion says:

    @James Joyner:

    he’s essentially shooting her to prevent the theft of $150.

    Not exactly:

    Gilbert’s actions were justified, they argued, because he was trying to retrieve stolen property: the $150 he paid Frago. It became theft when she refused to have sex with him or give the money back, they said.

    Actually, he shot her to _recover_ $150 that had already been stolen, rather than file a police report. Obviously, he couldn’t go to the cops in this particular situation, because the act itself was illegal, but it brings up an interesting question:

    Is there any corroboration besides the defendant’s word that the victim did actually take the $150? Or did he just know she had money on her, kill her, and then come up with this BS afterwards? Sounds like the makings of a perfect crime…

  7. al-Ameda says:

    The O.J. Jury continues it’s World Tour.

  8. Tony W says:

    So the State has somebody at the trial looking for its interests. The defendant is well represented as well. Since the State clearly does not represent the victim in Texas, under this statute who does?

    For a “law and order” state, Texas doesn’t seem to give a hoot about victims of crime.

  9. anjin-san says:

    Texas doesn’t seem to give a hoot about victims of crime.

    Depends on how good of a neighborhood they live in…

  10. mantis says:

    @Boyd:

    Secondly, and OTOH, she could have returned the man’s money upon his demand, since she clearly did nothing to earn it. This option became even more obvious once the man expressed his displeasure while holding a gun.

    And your point is what? That she deserved to be killed over $150? That’s certainly what the State of Texas decided.

    And lastly, and I say this in all openness, honesty and sincerity, if this aspect of Texas law bothers anyone, then they would be well-advised to steer clear of Texas to begin with.

    Agreed. You couldn’t pay me to visit that den of psychopaths.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    I think we’re missing an important detail: this guy couldn’t get a hooker to sleep with him? A hooker?

  12. john personna says:

    @Boyd:

    Secondly, and OTOH, she could have returned the man’s money upon his demand, since she clearly did nothing to earn it. This option became even more obvious once the man expressed his displeasure while holding a gun.

    Are you sure? Maybe something happened before the shot that made her want to get the hell out.

    (The court and you seem to assume that gun packing johns are noble arbiters in their cheap motel rooms.)

  13. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: Would YOU have sex with this man for $150?

  14. @James Joyner and others: Except that it isn’t theft. IIRC, if you enter into an oral contract with someone, pay them for a service that isn’t rendered or isn’t done properly, in almost all cases (absent provable fraud), it’s a civil dispute.

    (Of course, you can’t enter into an enforceable contract with someone for an illegal good or service.)

  15. James Joyner says:

    @Timothy Watson: I’m guessing that, in Texas, it’s theft. And, for all practical purposes, it’s actually theft.

  16. David D. from Philly says:

    Even better, if you read the Texas statute closely enough, it says you can use deadly force against someone committing “malicious mischief” on your property – such as, say, writing graffiti on a wall.

  17. stonetools says:

    I guess from here on in , hookers in Texas know to put out-or else.

    1
  18. Jenos Idanian says:

    I’m no lawyer, but isn’t there some provision in the law that says that you can’t enforce an illegal contract? That if the contract involves illegal activity, it’s null and void?

    Seems to me that the prosecution could have made that argument — since the money was given for an illegal act, the accused had no right to demand it back over breach of contract. And since he’d given her the money willingly, she hadn’t really stolen it. Fraud, maybe, but not theft.

    This strikes me as a one-off deal. This scum will walk, but things will be changed to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    And, in the meantime, we might see a slight uptick in honest hookers…

  19. mantis says:

    I would just like to note that the sale of sex toys is illegal in Texas. Murder is just fine, though.

  20. Caj says:

    Are you kidding me? Seems to me like Texas should secede the union! Who needs to be associated with such an idiotic state as that?

  21. Franklin says:

    One Rainy Night, a story by Franklin

    It was a warm, rainy night. Two people wait under a shelter for a bus. As the bus approaches, one of them picks up a nearby umbrella.

    “Excuse me, sir, you’ve picked up my umbrella.”

    “No, I’m afraid this is my umbrella, sir!” the other retorts. Unbeknownst to him, he is mistaken. His umbrella has fallen down behind the trash can it had been propped against earlier.

    “Please give me back my umbrella!” says the first.

    “I most certainly will not give you my umbrella!” says the second.

    BANG!

    The End.

    /this story has been approved by the state of Texas

  22. rudderpedals says:

    The woman must have been a huge she devil from hell to scare that big guy. WTF? Was she packing Skittles? (It doesn’t matter if it’s legal)

  23. anjin-san says:

    Memo to women, from the great conservative state of Texas. Put out, or else…

  24. MarkedMan says:

    Yeah. Texas. One f’ed up place.

  25. For some reason this reminds me of a case an Army CID agent told me about that he investigated, a prostitute who claimed she was raped by a john. The john was an active-duty soldier and the presumed offense took place in a wooded area of an Army installation.

    The woman making the complaint was a known prostitute with a record therefor, and she admitted she went with the junior-enlisted soldier in his car to the wooded area to give him sex for money.

    The case revolved around whether the soldier compelled her “by force, without consent,” as the UCMJ defines rape. The case was proven and the soldier was convicted because despite the arrangement the soldier and the woman had already made, the elements of proof were proved beyond reasonable doubt.

    It’s been almost 20 years since the agent told me the story so I don’t recall all the details. But the agent said that of all the cases he solved, he was proudest of this one.

  26. Dave D says:

    I find it odd with all of these states with castle doctrines and stand your ground laws where seemingly minor offenses become capital offenses. Seemingly this man should’ve cut his losses but apparently you can kill for illegal acts in Texas because I guess Freedom?

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:

    The list of men I wouldn’t sleep with for $150 is amazingly long. Pretty much all men, with the possible exception of Legolas. The list of women I wouldn’t sleep with is substantially shorter.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    When I read the description (and that’s my entire knowledge of the case) the impression I got was that he had called a prostitute to come over, she arrived with a taxi waiting in case there was no one there. She said “Show me the money” and he did, but then did or asked for something that creeped her out. Said she was leaving and he demanded his money back. She said I’ve got a driver waiting to get paid, I’m keeping the money, and then he shot her. Not quite the clear cut “she was a thief’ scenario being discussed here. But like the Trayvon Martin case, we only get to hear the explanation of the living.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    Legolas?!

  30. bill says:

    @EddieInCA: well considering that she was a whore…probably,y not much family concern- let alone the money to hire an attorney to sue someone who doesn’t have much money anyway….c’mon man.

  31. Sid Farkus says:

    @mantis: What the hell is wrong with you? There are so many sex shops here in Houston. Do you make up stuff or regurgitate stupid things you hear about this “den of psychopaths”? Are you one of those losers who ask if TX people ride horses to work? I can’t stand you either way…

  32. matt says:

    @David D. from Philly: Yes you can shoot someone for writing graffiti on your property. Tthe transaction occurred at his house at night so it was covered by the law. Basically in Texas you don’t mess with people’s houses or cars if you want to stay healthy. Interestingly I’ve had no issues at all in Texas with people vandalizing my property or car. In Illinois it was a damned near yearly thing..

    @Franklin: Should add something about being on the fellow’s property if you want it to be “legit”.

  33. john personna says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I was expecting an exception for someone like Dionysus who at least had wine, parties, madness, chaos, drunkenness, drugs, and magic on his side.

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  35. Blacque Jacques Shellacque says:

    @Mumbai Independent Escorts:

    The spam you had intended to leave didn’t show up.

    Haw haw.

  36. Anderson says:

    She was technically an “escort,” right? An escort doesn’t cheat you by not sleeping with you.

  37. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Boyd:

    The working girls and their pimps in Texas should put a contract out on him. I say this in all openness, honesty and sincerity. If this aspect of street justice bothers anyone, they should steer clear of hookers. It’s now too easy to rip them off.

  38. Boyd says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    Your name says it all.

  39. mantis says:

    @Sid Farkus:

    What the hell is wrong with you?

    Nothing, but then I don’t live in Texas.

    There are so many sex shops here in Houston. Do you make up stuff or regurgitate stupid things you hear about this “den of psychopaths”?

    Actually, you are right. The ban on the sale of sex toys in Texas was overturned less than three years ago. I missed that news. Do you deny that it was illegal until then?

    Are you one of those losers who ask if TX people ride horses to work? I can’t stand you either way…

    Well, the feeling is mutual. Try not to get shot out there, partner.

  40. mantis says:

    @matt:

    Interestingly I’ve had no issues at all in Texas with people vandalizing my property or car. In Illinois it was a damned near yearly thing..

    Well, I’ve lived in Illinois most of my life, and have never had any of my property vandalized. I have had several run-ins with psychopathic Texans, both within and outside of that f*cked up state.

  41. matt says:

    @mantis: Herpaderp oh yeah? Well the only nice people I’ve ever MET WERE TEXANS AND THE REST WERE ALL SCARED FCKED UP LIBERULSHJAHAHA

    Okay trying to act you just…hurts…

    Meanwhile back in reality. I could link you scores of vandalism reports from my local paper in Illinois but that really wouldn’t accomplish anything. No you’re just interested in the power of the troll. So congrats you got a bit of a troll out of me.

  42. mantis says:

    @matt:

    So congrats you got a bit of a troll out of me.

    Don’t blame me for your problems.