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Pre-trial hearing held on Friday for fourth defendant in Philen murder

By Betty Nguyen, bnguyen@ktxs.com
Published On: Nov 08 2013 09:15:33 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 08 2013 09:15:36 PM CST
Matthew Navarro, capital murder

A new date was set during January 2014 in a capital murder trial for a killing that happened in Brownwood back in 2009. Matthew Navarro, 23, was one of four men charged with breaking into Ronald Philen's home and killing him while trying to steal marijuana. A judge rescheduled the trial for June 2.

BROWNWOOD, Texas -

The fourth defendant charged with a Brownwood man's murder was in court for a pre-trial hearing Friday.

23-year-old Matthew Navarro is one of four men charged with murdering Ronald Philen on Dec. 11, 2009 while trying to steal marijuana from his home.

His attorney, Evan Pierce-Jones, requested the trial to be held outside of Brown County. He said he feared Navarro would not receive a fair trial due to so much media coverage. The judge denied his request, but said he would reconsider should the jurors appear to be biased.

Jones also requested to suppress evidence regarding a separate incident which Navarro was involved in. 

In February 2010, police officers found drugs in Navarro's brother's vehicle during a traffic stop. Navarro and Rocha Jr. were passengers in the vehicle. Later, officers found drugs and ammunition in Navarro's room during a search of his apartment. The state wanted to present that to a jury. The judge has yet to rule on that.

Two of the men involved with the incident took plea deals for reduced sentences. The third man was found guilty of capital murder this past Tuesday. Navarro's trial is expected to be held at the end of January.