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UPDATE: Rocha murder trial, victim's sister took the witness stand Thursday

By Betty Nguyen, bnguyen@ktxs.com
Published On: Nov 01 2013 08:34:18 PM CDT
BROWNWOOD, Texas -

The jurors in the Rocha murder trial are another day closer to reaching a verdict as the state rested its case on Thursday.

Pedro Rocha Jr., 22, is one of four men charged with murdering Ronald Philen on December 11, 2009, after breaking into his home to steal marijuana.

The first half of the fourth day of trial consisted of witnesses who were involved with the process of fingerprinting. After comparing 4x6 photos of fingerprints to markings on the door panel, one of the witnesses, Texas Department of Public Safety forensic scientist Megan Blackburn, confirmed the evidence pointed to Alex Gil Jr.'s left hand as well as Rocha's left index finger.

The state rested its case shortly before noon.

Court resumed at 1 p.m., with the defense attorney, Todd Steele, calling Ronald and Randall Philen's sister, Penny Lawson, to the witness stand. Lawson was uncooperative in the beginning. She repetitively said, "I assert my 5th amendment rights." She said she was on pain medication that affected her memory, but the presiding judge said she was able to respond coherently. Judge Ellis explained to Lawson that failure to comply could result in jail time.

After consulting with her lawyer and another witness had testified, Lawson resumed the witness stand, where she described the relationship between the Philen brothers.

She later said she did not want to testify because she was afraid of messing up her answers. Back in 2009, she said she believed her brother Randall Philen was guilty based on the evidence. 

Randall Philen was originally convicted, and then later acquitted, for his brother's murder.