DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A man who admitted to running over a 76-year-old woman in a Northeast Dallas Wal-Mart Parking Lot in March 2011 blurted out an apology on the second day of his sentencing phase Wednesday.
The man, Rogelio 'Roger' Belmonte, pleaded guilty to murder after dragging of 76-year-old Sabra Leavy while trying to steal her purse. Leavy died from her injuries days after the attempted theft.
Wednesday morning in a break with court protocol, he apologized to Linda Hazouri, the victim's daughter. Prosecutor Dewey Mitchell had just wrapped with Hazouri's testimony when he told her 'Sorry for your loss.'
Belmonte then verbally said he was sorry. Judge Carter Thomas admonished Belmonte for the apology in front of the jury.
Hazouri described her mother as a woman much younger than her 76-years, into yoga, knitting, and dance classes. But her last days were filled with suffering. "She was in excruciating pain... She was crying and saying how badly it hurt. couldn't move and needed something for pain. It was very traumatic to hear that."
A customer in the parking lot that day described the horror at watching Leavy being dragged and run over by Belmonte's truck. "And I seen a lady holding onto her purse," said eyewitness Kimberly Butler. "I seen a black truck speeding through the air and I seen a lady holding onto her purse. She was halfway--like her arm was hanging out the window and she was barely holding onto the truck. His back tire ran over her."
Belmonte was arrested about the time Leavy died. The defense tried unsuccessfully to block four hours of interrogation video taken by Dallas homicide investigators, including the moment a detective broke news of Leavy's death to Belmonte. "So you know," Detective Michael Yeric could be heard saying on the tape, "the lady did die. You're going to be charged with murder and the officers are going to take you downstairs, okay?"
In the tape, instead of initially showing remorse as the defense had indicated it wanted to argue, Belmonte could be seen pacing before kicking a door and falling on the floor, holding his shin. The defense called it acting out of frustration.
Kaitlin Edmonson, Belmonte's girlfriend and admitted accomplice, has already testified in the case. She will be sentenced by a judge later.
Testimony in the punishment phase in Belmonte's trial resumes Thursday.
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