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Texas jury recommends the death penalty for man convicted of the fatal shooting of a state trooper

Victor Godinez enters the courtroom at the Hidalgo County Courthouse, Tuesday, Jan. 30 2024, in Edinburg, Texas. A Texas jury early Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, sentenced Godinez, a south Texas man, to death for fatally shooting a state trooper in 2019. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP)

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) — A Texas jury early Wednesday recommended a south Texas man be sentenced to death for fatally shooting a state trooper in 2019.

The Hidalgo County jury that convicted Victor Godinez last week of capital murder and deliberated for nearly 12 hours before returning the death penalty recommendation shortly after midnight.

Godinez, 29, was to be formally sentenced Wednesday afternoon.

Godinez was convicted after a 16-day trial in the April 2019 shooting of Trooper Moises Sanchez.

Sanchez died of his injuries four months after being shot in the head and shoulder in Edinburg while investigating a vehicle collision in which Godinez had fled the scene.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has said Sanchez approached a vehicle crash where the driver fled on foot. The trooper then located Godinez near the scene and was shot.

Defense attorney O. Rene Flores argued that Sanchez had died due to complications of surgery to his skull and not because of the gunshot wound to the head.

Prosecutors countered that the shooting led to the need for the surgery.

“This is as much justice as we are going to get,” prosecutor Joseph Orendain said. “I think this community has spoken and said that they’re not going to tolerate this kind of behavior in our county. And they are going to give the most serious punishment that they can dole out.”

The jury also convicted Godinez of attempted murder of two law enforcement officers during a manhunt for him and sentenced him to life in prison on those counts.

Texas death penalty verdicts are automatically appealed to an appeals court.