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Witness recounts stabbing death at Texas murder trial

mySA logo mySA 3 days ago By Bruce Selcraig, Staff Writer

a screen shot of a man: Ignacio Jimenez Jr. is on trial for murder in the killing of Roland Pantoja in 2016. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Ignacio Jimenez Jr. is on trial for murder in the killing of Roland Pantoja in 2016. James Chapa has been an accomplished truck thief, a West Side, San Antonio cocaine and methamphetamine dealer, and a former member of the Mexican Mafia, a gang he served loyally in and out of prison, he testified Wednesday at the murder trial of a former associate.

Wearing handcuffs, plastic slippers and baggy county jail “reds,” and given immunity by the Bexar County, Texas district attorney’s office, Chapa testified that he and Ignacio “Nacho” Jimenez, the defendant, helped deliver 18 stab wounds on Aug. 29, 2016, to a fellow drug dealer, Roland Pantoja.

The body of Pantoja, 34, was found by a passerby a day later, wrapped in sheets and a blanket, in the 10000 block of Quintana.

Chapa said the murder occurred in the back of a home at 1415 Colima, in retaliation for Pantoja’s unpaid debts and his alleged hit-and-run vehicle assault of Jimenez months earlier.

Jimenez, 53, is also a career felon, according to court records. He faces five to 99 years, if convicted, as would another former convict and co-defendant in the killing, David Ortiz, who is awaiting trial.

Before the prosecution closed its case after two days of testimony, Chapa, currently serving four years for burglary, painted a portrait of paranoid criminals, and sometimes their wives and girlfriends, getting high together, stealing vehicles and keeping score against enemies.

He said he joined the Mexican Mafia in 2000 and that the gang’s “sergeants, lieutenants and captains” were in every part of San Antonio. Chapa said he considered Jimenez to be a full-fledged member.

Questioned by police, Jimenez did not deny the affiliation. He told a detective that before he could speak in depth about his involvement in Pantoja’s death he needed to “get things straight with some people on the street.”

Chapa said he was driving a female friend’s car with Pantoja in the passenger seat and someone identified only as “Little Man” in the back seat as the trio arrived at Ortiz’s house on the day of the killing. Ortiz came to the passenger side and asked Pantoja if he drove a blue Chevrolet truck.

The truck had run over Jimenez some 10 weeks earlier, leaving him with multiple serious injuries.

“Ortiz then gets in the car and starts pistol whipping Pantoja with a .9mm Glock…and then tells me to go get Nacho (Jimenez), who was sleeping in the back seat of a car” nearby, Chapa testified.

Chapa said Jimenez soon found a foot-long curved knife, with a brass-knuckles handle, and joined in the assault, though he was still injured and using a “walker” from the hit-and-run.

“Roland (Pantoja) was begging for his life, crying,” Chapa said. “He was saying it (the hit-and-run) was all an accident, and he was getting stabbed in the side and bleeding. Then I handed the knife to Nacho and said, ‘It’s up to Nacho if you live or die.’”

Jimenez delivered shallow jabs at first, said Chapa, and then one deeper thrust.

“Tell my little boy that I love him,” Chapa said Pantoja gasped as he bled out.

The men then got sheets and blankets to wrap Pantoja’s body, he said. The car in which the killing allegedly occurred was later found dumped in Dimmit County, according to prosecutors.

“I helped them do everything, because I didn’t want to end up being the next Roland. I was scared,” Chapa said. “A million things were going through my mind.”

An unimposing man, at 5-foot-7 and some 150 pounds, Jimenez listened to the day’s testimony without any reaction, other than to occasionally whisper to his attorney. At the end of the day, bailiffs handcuffed him and took him back to jail.

The trial is to continue Thursday in the “impact court,” with Visiting Judge Dick Alcala presiding.

Bruce Selcraig is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. | BSelcraig@express-news.net

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