Violent fight over cell phone ends in Austin woman’s death

Alexander Holland (Austin Police Department Photo)
Alexander Holland (Austin Police Department Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman died from her injuries last week after being attacked over a borrowed cell phone in southeast Austin.

At around 8:50 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18, Austin police were called to 1701 E. Riverside Dr., just east of Interstate 35. Officers arrived and found a man and a woman, noting the woman, identified as Luz Devina Munoz, 39, was lying on the ground and unresponsive, but alive.

The man, Munoz’s boyfriend, told officers that two men pulled up in an SUV and began to fight with him. The boyfriend told police that one of the men slammed Munoz on the ground and stomped on her head with his foot repeatedly, adding that he personally knew the suspect but couldn’t remember his name.

Another vehicle pulled up and began honking. The two suspects then ran and got into an SUV. The witness who was honking her horn to break up the fight told police that she saw the attack while driving by the old Jack in the Box, pulling up to see one man punching the victim’s boyfriend and another man stomping on Munoz’s head.

Austin-Travis County EMS took both to University Medical Center Brackenridge; Munoz having suffered severe head trauma and her boyfriend a fractured eye-socket. Munoz died from her injuries on Friday, Jan. 20.

Family members had already told an Austin police detective that Munoz was not going to survive her injuries and they were meeting to discuss terminating her life support.

A building formerly housing a Jack in the Box at 1701 E. Riverside Dr. where Luz Munoz was stomped to death on Jan. 18, 2017 (KXAN Photo)
A building formerly housing a Jack in the Box at 1701 E. Riverside Dr. where Luz Munoz was stomped to death on Jan. 18, 2017 (KXAN Photo)

A family member of Munoz contacted the detective on Friday to say she also knew one of the suspects. After speaking with her sister’s boyfriend, they were able to confirm the suspect’s identity as Alexander Dwayne Holland, 44. He was located by the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force and arrested Friday.

Munoz’s boyfriend told officers in a written statement that Holland had approached his girlfriend the morning of Jan. 18 and asked about a cell phone he let her borrow.

According to the police affidavit, Munoz told Holland that she gave the phone away. Holland replied that he would give her time to find the phone, and that he would be back. Munoz’s boyfriend said they were behind the old Jack in the Box sleeping on some pallets when Holland and the other suspect pulled up in their SUV.

The other suspect began punching Munoz’s boyfriend when he tried to defend her, police say. The couple ran to the front of the building to try to flag down help, when Holland caught up to them. The victim’s boyfriend told officers that Holland was “trying to kill [Munoz]” as he stomped on her head.

When the witness pulled up and started honking, the two suspects returned to their car, with Holland in the driver’s seat. He then drove forward, hitting the kneeling couple as they tried to get up. Holland then backed the car up and drove away.

Holland has been charged with murder, a first-degree felony, with a bond set at $750,000, and is being held in the Travis County Jail. The Austin Police Department has marked the case as the first murder in Austin this year.

As for the second suspect, officers say one additional arrest is expected. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the incident to call the Homicide Tip Line at 512-477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS.

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