Juan Balderas was sentenced to death by the State of Texas for a murder involving a witness. According to court documents Juan Balderas and the victim Eduardo Hernandez were part of the same street gang. Eduardo Hernandez was told not to testify against a fellow gangmember however when he still planned to do so the gang leader put a hit out on him. Juan Balderas would shoot and kill Eduardo Hernandez. Juan Balderas would be arrested ten days later carrying the murder weapon. He would be convicted and sentenced to death
Juan Balderas 2021 Information
|Date of Birth||09/02/1986|
|Age (when Received)||27|
|Education Level (Highest Grade Completed)||12|
|Date of Offense||12/15/2005|
|Age (at the time of Offense)||19|
|Height (in Feet and Inches)||5′ 07″|
|Weight (in Pounds)||160|
Juan Balderas More News
In 2004, the victim, Eduardo Hernandez, became a member of the Barrio Tres Alief (“BTA”), a regional subset of the La Tercera Crips (“LTC”) street gang in Houston. Balderas, a long-time member of the LTC gang and one of the founding members of the BTA subset, had introduced Hernandez to the gang. Initially, the other LTC members liked Hernandez, and Hernandez was proud to be part of the gang. LTC member Israel Diaz befriended Hernandez, and for a while Hernandez lived with Diaz. However, in late 2004, this friendship soured after Diaz let Hernandez borrow a vehicle that Diaz had stolen the week before. Police officers stopped and arrested Hernandez while he was driving the stolen vehicle. After Hernandez informed them that he had borrowed the vehicle from Diaz, they arrested Diaz for aggravated robbery.
Diaz bonded out of jail in April 2005. He was angry with Hernandez for “snitching” on him. He “lectured” Hernandez about giving his name to the police, and Hernandez promised that he would not testify against Diaz in the aggravated robbery case. Balderas’s defense counsel argued at trial that Hernandez’s snitching gave Diaz a motive for murder, but Diaz denied that he wanted to kill Hernandez. Diaz testified that he knew that two other witnesses could identify him as the thief and that police had found his fingerprints on the stolen vehicle; therefore, preventing Hernandez from testifying would not have helped him avoid the robbery conviction. Also, because of the pending robbery case, Diaz knew that he would be the first suspect if anything happened to Hernandez. Diaz testified that even though he personally did not want to kill Hernandez, other LTC members viewed Hernandez’s conduct as being disrespectful of the gang and thought that Hernandez needed to be punished. Diaz testified that he asked those members to wait until his trial was over before they took action against Hernandez.
After the snitching incident, Hernandez stopped associating with other LTC gang members. He also moved out of his family home so that LTC members could not easily locate him. In August or September 2005, he began dating Karen Bardales (“Karen”). Hernandez and Karen spent much of their time “hanging out” in an apartment belonging to one of Karen’s friends, Durjan Decorado, who was not in a gang. Karen’s older sister, Wendy Bardales (“Wendy”), and Wendy’s boyfriend, Edgar Ferrufino, also spent much of their time in that apartment. Karen and Wendy’s friends, including members of several rival gangs, would visit them there. Hernandez socialized with those friends.
Over the next few months, LTC gang members heard rumors that Hernandez was associating with members of rival gangs and flashing rival gangs’ hand signs, which constituted acts of disloyalty and disrespect against the LTC gang. After seeing images of Hernandez on social media confirming these rumors, some indignant LTC members urged the gang to take action against him. Three or four days before Hernandez’s killing, senior members of the gang called a meeting. Those in attendance agreed to shoot and kill Hernandez. Although they did not expressly select an individual to kill him, everyone understood that Hernandez was Balderas’s responsibility because he had introduced Hernandez to the gang.
On the afternoon of December 6, 2005, Wendy, Ferrufino, Karen, and Hernandez were hanging out in Decorado’s apartment. Jose Vazquez, a senior LTC gang member, stopped by to talk to Hernandez. Karen began saying disrespectful things about the LTC gang, which upset Vazquez. Vasquez wanted Hernandez to leave the apartment with him, but Hernandez refused. Hernandez was visibly upset after Vazquez left. He told Karen that he was worried that something was going to happen. Later, Hernandez left with his sister to go shopping and have dinner. He and Karen reunited at the apartment complex that night.
Around 9:45 p.m., Wendy, Ferrufino, Decorado, and Decorado’s cousin were in Decorado’s apartment. Ferrufino and Wendy were playing a video game in the living room. As Karen and Hernandez approached the apartment, Karen noticed fresh LTC gang graffiti on the exterior wall. Immediately after entering the apartment, they heard gunshots, and then the front door opened and a gunman ran into the apartment. Hernandez dropped to the floor and pulled Karen down with him, positioning himself between Karen and the gunman. Decorado and his cousin fled to the bedrooms, and Ferrufino crouched next to the television stand. Wendy, who was sitting on the floor between the couch and the television, froze. She could see the gunman as he entered the apartment, and her eyes followed him until he left.
The gunman fired his gun as he ran around the living room. Wendy saw that he was wearing khaki pants and a black hoodie, with the hood pulled up over his head. She got a good look at his face when his hood fell down as he passed her. The gunman paused in front of Ferrufino, who asked him not to shoot. He did not shoot Ferrufino and began to move back toward the entryway, but then he stopped and stood over Hernandez. He shot Hernandez in the back and head multiple times. Karen, who was lying face-down next to Hernandez, did not see the gunman’s face, but when the gunman extended his arm toward Hernandez, Karen could see that he was wearing a black sweater. After shooting Hernandez at least nine times, the gunman left. Ferrufino called 9-1-1.
Around that time, Diaz heard from another LTC gang member that “they” had “found [Hernandez,]” which Diaz understood to mean that Hernandez was about to be (or had just been) killed. He and other LTC members gathered across the street from the apartment complex. They could see an ambulance and police cars in the parking lot. Diaz saw Balderas waiting near the apartment complex. Balderas was wearing a dark blue or black sweater-like top and khakis. When Balderas noticed Diaz and the others, he crossed the street to join them. Balderas hugged everyone and seemed “joyful” as he reported that he “finally got him.” Diaz saw Balderas change the magazine of a silver handgun. Diaz recognized the handgun as one of two silver guns that Balderas regularly carried.
That night, law enforcement officials took Wendy, Karen, and Ferrufino to the police station to give witness statements. In the early morning hours of December 7, Wendy gave a statement that was committed to writing by Officer Thomas Cunningham. Wendy stated that she had never seen the gunman before, and she described him as a “skinny Hispanic guy dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt type jacket.” She also stated that he had a “dark birth mark” on his face but she could not remember where.
Around 10:30 p.m., Sergeant Norman Ruland drove to Wendy’s apartment to show her a photo array of six suspects that included Diaz but not Balderas. Wendy did not identify the gunman, but she recognized Diaz. She stated that he was a friend of Hernandez who went by the street name “Cookie,” and that she was sure he was not the gunman. She told Ruland that the gunman had a dark mark on his cheek that did not resemble the scars that were visible on Diaz’s face.
On December 12, Ruland returned to Wendy’s apartment with a second photo array that included Balderas’s photograph. Wendy immediately pointed to Balderas, saying that she recognized him as a friend of Hernandez and Diaz who went by the street name “Apache.” She also stated that he “looked like the shooter.” When Ruland asked Wendy if Balderas was the shooter, she reiterated that Balderas’s “face looked exactly like the shooter’s face.” She signed and dated Balderas’s photograph to confirm her identification. Although Ruland felt that Wendy was confident in her identification of Balderas as the gunman, he was confused by her verbal phrasing in making the identification. Therefore, the following day, he returned to Wendy’s apartment to seek clarification. On this occasion, Wendy expressly identified Balderas as the gunman, stating that she was positive in her identification. She wrote a sentence in Spanish on the back of the lineup to confirm her positive identification. Based on this identification, police obtained a warrant for Balderas’s arrest.
On December 16, Officer Rick Moreno drove to an apartment complex where he watched for Balderas and another LTC gang member, Rigalado Silder, and waited for the assistance of a SWAT team. After Moreno had been watching the complex for about 25 minutes, he observed Balderas and Silder leave an upstairs apartment and start down the stairs. Each man was carrying a large box, and Balderas had a black bag slung over his shoulder. When they saw the SWAT team arriving, Balderas and Silder set everything down and started running. Moreno caught Silder in the apartment complex, while the SWAT team pursued Balderas into the neighborhood and caught him as he tried to hide under a car. Moreno saw that the boxes and bag contained firearms and other weapons, bullet-proof vests, identification holders, magazines, and ammunition. One of the weapons recovered from the box that Balderas had been carrying was a handgun that was later identified, through ballistics testing, as the murder weapon in Hernandez’s killing. A shell casing from a semiautomatic handgun was recovered from Balderas’s right rear pants pocket.