Music used to obscure shots fired to kill woman, neighbor testifies at Fort Worth trial
Through the night, music thundered next door at what seemed like yet another party. Considering it now, Carlos Rivera believes the high volume was a killer’s effort to muffle shots.
“I was still able to hear it,” Rivera testified on Thursday of the semiautomatic gunfire.
Angela Gagne was on a Friday in early June 2017 inside her south Fort Worth house. On the other side of the duplex were neighbors Rivera, his wife, their two children and another child they were babysitting. The Riveras had on a previous occasion accepted an invitation to join in jubilation next door, but stayed away on this night.
Up late with his ill son, Rivera played the video game “Call of Duty.”
Through the thin walls of the duplex, Rivera testified, he heard arguing that he said he was certain involved the voices of Gagne and her new boyfriend, Q’Juan Holmes.
For an hour, perhaps two, it continued. At one point, a vehicle arrived, and it sounded as if a second man was trying to calm the quarrel, Rivera said, but the discord flared.
“(Expletive,) I’ll take your life,” Rivera testified he heard in the voice of Q’Juan Holmes, who was indicted on capital murder in Gagne’s death.
Q’Juan Holmes’ trial entered on Thursday its third day in 297th District Court in Tarrant County. Holmes’ brother, Xondadric Holmes, was also indicted on capital murder in Gagne’s death, and that case is pending.
Gagne was also angry and told Q’Juan Holmes to get out, the neighbor said from the witness stand. At one point, Rivera testified, he heard four gunshots.
Rivera said he believed Gagne had been murdered, but did not call the police. He said he was panicked and had nothing to defend his wife and the children.
“It crossed my mind but I didn’t,” he said.
That Sunday, Rivera and his wife knocked on Gagne’s door. No one answered, and they returned to their home.
The following day, responding to a welfare check request from one of her daughters, police discovered Gagne’s body on the floor of a spare bedroom.
Nude and on her side, Gagne’s legs were bent toward her chest. Purple bruises coated her face. A bit of blackened material appeared to have burned on her chest. She had been shot four times in the head.
Gagne, 41, worked as a bar and restaurant manager.
Inside Gagne’s house in the 6400 block of Woodbeach Drive, police found a living room in disarray. An entertainment center was pulled from the wall, from which exposed wires protruded. There was a collection of drywall dust on the floor. An oven coil was on and hot. Glass in the back door was broken.
Prosecutors allege that televisions were removed from the house about the time Gagne was shot.
On Thursday, an acquaintance of Q’Juan Holmes testified that the defendant asked for his help in selling three televisions. The man said he sold the televisions, which he said he did not know were stolen. The witness received immunity from prosecution in connection with the stolen televisions in exchange for his truthful testimony in the capital murder case. The man, who is the defendant in a pending continuous sexual abuse of a child case, does not have a current or prospective agreement with prosecutors in that case, he testified. Defense attorney Steve Gordon suggested that because the case has not been disposed, a deal may still be reached that would benefit the man.
On cross examination, defense attorney George Houston suggested Rivera was not familiar with Q’Juan Holmes’ voice because the men had never spoken. In an interview with a detective 10 days after Gagne’s body was found, Rivera said the shots sounded like firecrackers or a mop hitting the floor.
Gagne and Holmes met on Facebook, Assistant Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Marcus Hanna told jurors in an opening statement.
The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office waived the death penalty in the case, and Holmes faces life in prison if he is found guilty.
The trial will continue Friday.