DALE, Texas (KXAN) — One of three men charged in the capital murder of a 47 year-old man visiting his uncle in Caldwell County in late 2013 struck a plea deal that will send him to prison for 45 years, KXAN confirms.
District Attorney Fred Weber tells KXAN Pedro Lucio admitted to killing Russell Martens nearly two-and-a-half years after deputies found the Alabama native shot to death on the sofa of Pete Dobbins’ rental home during an apparent burglary attempt.
Weber says capital murder cases remain pending against Louis Holt and Trey Hopes, although Hopes did plead guilty to felony burglary of a habitation in relation to a break-in at Dobbins’ home December 12, 2013.
At the time, Martens, 47 had been visiting his wife’s uncle in order to help Pete Dobbins move back to Alabama after the holidays so he could live with them. The 62-year-old, bedridden man told them he had not been getting along with his in-home caretaker. Russell was house-sitting while Dobbins worked to get his health stabilized from an Austin hospital bed. He had been suffering heart problems, according to court records.
A wrongful death lawsuit KXAN reported in 2014 contended three men who broke in to the property knew Dobbins’ in-home caretaker, a young woman employed by Girling Home Health in Austin. The suit alleged she tipped them off Dobbins’ home should be vacant.
As well, the suit contended one of the men charged in the crime, Trey Hopes, had visited the girl at Dobbins’ home more than once without his permission.
KXAN sat down with Dobbins in mid-2014. The interview came months before he passed away from complications related to his poor health.
“Did you ever invite the boyfriend in, the other friends in?” asked KXAN’s Robert Maxwell. Dobbins responded, “No. They weren’t invited into my home at all.”
When Dobbins died before his lawyers could depose him, the civil claim against the homecare provider, Girling, all but evaporated. That left the criminal process.
Arrest records show Lucio and the two other men were caught after driving around in a car containing items taken from Dobbins’ house.
The two other men, Trey Hopes and Louis Holt remain locked up waiting their turn before the District Court Judge in Caldwell County.
Pedro Lucio is to be formally sentenced June 23rd, DA Weber confirms.