Victim Julie Ann Gonzalez
AUSTIN, Texas - George De La Cruz may not take the stand in his own defense in his murder trial but Thursday the jury did get to hear the words he spoke five years ago.
"I know y'all see me as a suspect... I'm ok with it," he said in a police interrogation video showed in court.
The video was recorded April 6, 2010. It was about a week after Julie Ann Gonzalez was last seen alive.
Early into the meeting. Detective James Scott asks De La Cruz if he is responsible for her disappearance. The exchange goes like this:
"Det. Scott: "I'll be honest with ya, Julie's mom thinks you killed her."
De La Cruz: "I didn't."
Det. Scott: "You didn't kill her, did you?
De La Cruz: "No."
Det. Scott: I got to ask."
De La Cruz: "No."
Det. Scott: "OK."
De La Cruz: "Yeah, I ... don't know about that ... I wouldn't do that."
Scott told prosecutor Gary Cobb and the jury that De La Cruz - at that time- did not throw up any red flags.
"Does it turnout that maybe he was not as cooperative as you thought he was when you were interviewing him," asked Cobb.
Scott agreed with that, pointing out that hind sight is 20/20.
Text messages and social media posts from Julie Ann Gonzalez's phone kept the case from initially becoming a top priority for investigators. Det. Scott explained to the jury why an effort to track her cell phone wasn't made.
"I didn't have enough information. the fact that she was texting alone takes away the exigent circumstances saying, I can say this person is in imminent danger they are writing text I just want to get away ," said Scott.
If the phone had been tracked, it may have been found with De La Cruz. Prosecutors believe he was posting messages on her phone- to make it seem like she was still alive and had run off to Colorado with a mysterious lover. A month after the disappearance, there was another meeting with detectives. Prosecutors are trying to use the video to show De La Cruz mislead investigators- and even tried to shift the blame. He was asked if he thought Gonzalez's mother could have harmed her. In answering that question, De La Cruz accused Julie Ann's mother of being quick tempered. He also said when the case had attracted national media attention, her family also acted suspicious.
"I think they know something, that they really don't want to share," said De La Cruz.
Police eventually searched the house he lived at with his mother. Among the items found was a suspicious hole dug in the ground under a back yard shed and a picture of Julie Ann. The picture had been torn and later taped back together. It would be another three years before De La Cruz would be charged with murder.
Late in the day, Victoria De La Cruz tried to explain why he had Gonzalez's debit car which Prosecutors brought up earlier in the week. The jury was shown how De La Cruz used the debit card to go shopping. He bought some bathroom items for his daughter and a Disney movie, but he also purchased video gaming items for himself. Victoria De La Cruz surprised prosecutors when she claimed that Gonzalez had given her card to George in the past on several occasions, she even claimed she once had it. Assistant District Attorney Gary Cobb questioned her testimony because she has never mentioned this before and suggested she had been coached. Cobb also tried to trip her up by asking if she knew her son had Gonzalez's cell phone. She denied knowing that.
Defense attorney Keith Lauerman later pointed out, prosecutors may not have found any proof of life but so far they have also not provided any proof of death.