(Seguin) -- A New Braunfels couple awaits the sentencing phase of a plea agreement calling for probation in the 2016 Easter Sunday homicide case reported in northern Guadalupe County.
The negotiated agreements were heard and presented Wednesday morning in the courtroom of State District Judge Gary Steel of the 274th Judicial District.
Approaching the bench first at the Guadalupe County Justice Center was Jennifer Coryell, the biological mother of the 18-year-old who was shot and killed by his step-father George Coryell. The victim, Felix Antonio Nieves, was shot at the family's home during the early morning hours of Sunday, March 27, 2016.
Jennifer, who originally faced a single charge of first degree felony murder, pled guilty to the negotiated deal charge of third degree felony attempted manslaughter. The charge is punishable by 2 to 10 years in a prison plus fine. The negotiated plea agreement issued Wednesday requested eight years probation and a $1,500 fine.
Next was the victim's step-father who faces a charge of second degree felony attempted manslaughter. The charge is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000. The negotiated deal initiated by well known Criminal Defense Attorney Dick DeGuerin requested 10 years probation, a $4,000 fine plus additional court costs and 180 days in the Guadalupe County Jail. It also called for no unsupervised contact with his children during the term of his probation.
DeGuerin says considering the tragedy behind this case, he feels confident in the negotiation agreement reached by all parties.
"First, we spend a lot of time investigating this case and I'm convinced that it was a justifiable self defense shooting. It's a tragedy, but this kid was attacking his mother and he had attacked his mother before, he had attacked his step-father before. It was a very emotional sort of thing. The shotgun misfired. It was fired twice. We've had it examined. It was the fault of the shotgun. The investigation that we did, I believe, confirmed that this was a self-defense, but the bottom line when you go before a jury, nobody knows what could happen. I think this is a fair resolution of the case," said DeGuerin.
Former District Attorney Heather McMinn, who has remained on this case, says she is ready to see it through and to the very end.
"It was a very tough case. We were set for trial and prepared to go to trial. We reached this agreement between all parties, because we felt that it was the best justice in this particular case. There were some issues that were brought up by the defense and we can discuss that more after sentencing because if the judge doesn't accept the sentencing, we could still be going into a trial on this case. We're very limited on what we can say," said McMinn.
McMinn says ensuring justice for the young man and peace for the rest of the family remains the ultimate goal for prosecutors.
"There was an 18-year-old boy who was shot in his home and that is something that George is going to have to live with the rest of his life that he did kill his step-son. There were issues of self defense and mitigation that were brought up. It was a very chaotic home, a very violent and abusive environment for these kids to be in. We're very thankful that Jennifer's rights to her other children have been terminated and that they are doing very well with family, but these people have no business having children in their home," said McMinn.
According to initial reports released by the New Braunfels Police Department, the shooting was revealed as part of a domestic disturbance that began with an argument between Nieves and his mother. During that argument, the mother produced a handheld 'stun gun' device and attempted to use it on Nieves. However, according to officials, Nieves was able to take the device away from her and proceeded to use the device on her several times.
That's when investigators say George's step-father, retrieved a .45 caliber handgun from a nearby nightstand and attempted to fire the weapon. After being unsuccessful, he reportedly retrieved a 12-gauge double barrel shotgun and confronted Nieves who, at this point, was said to be unarmed and no longer assaulting his mother. They say Coryell then fired two rounds from the shotgun, allegedly striking Nieves twice, killing him instantly.
The sentencing phase for the couple is scheduled for Oct. 11.