Confusion clouds murder charge in Mercedes

A 36-year-old Weslaco man has been booked into jail on a charge of murder after being arrested by the Mercedes Police Department, but he’s not accused of killing anyone.

Mercedes police arrested Paul Buenrostro last Friday and accused him of attempting to set his girlfriend on fire and choking the woman.

Officer LeRoy Hernandez says in a probable cause affidavit that Buenrostro did, “then and there, with the specific intent to commit the offense of Murder of (the alleged victim), do an act, namely by throwing lighter fluid on her bed and her person and throwing a lit cigarette onto the bed, which amounted to more than mere preparation that tended but failed to effect the commission of the offense intended, to wit: in violation of Texas Penal Code section 19.02 (c) MURDER, 2nd degree felony,” the probable cause affidavit states.

The Monitor would normally ask Mercedes police chief Dagoberto “Dago” Chavez to clarify, but on Tuesday morning he informed that he would not comment to The Monitor on arrests his agency makes. Instead, he directed a reporter to file a public information request with “city hall.”

Chavez has provided comment to television stations concerning crime and excluded The Monitor. Asked why, Chavez again referred a reporter to filing an open record request.

The city of Mercedes does not have an online form to file open records requests, does not have an email address posted on its website for the filing of open records requests and refers requesters to a one-page PDF file for open record requests.

Instead, The Monitor filed an open record request with the Hidalgo County Detention Center, which promptly provided the affidavit.

It’s unclear why Buenrostro is listed as being charged with murder on the jail’s booking sheet and in online jail records.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Buenrostro and his girlfriend, who The Monitor is not identifying because she’s an alleged victim of domestic abuse, were drinking alcohol outside her residence on Oct. 4 when the couple had a verbal argument.

In an effort to de-escalate the situation, the woman told an officer on Oct. 5 at about 5:11 p.m., that she went inside to lay down in a bed in an attempt to calm things down, according to the charging document.

“Mr. Buenrostro began pouring large amounts of lighter fluid on her and then proceeded to light a cigarette while stating ‘ no saves con quien te mestistes (expletive)’ then threw the lit cigarrette with intent to set her in flames,” the affidavit states.

The translation is “you don’t know who you messed with, (expletive).”

The alleged victim told the officer she followed Buenrostro outside where he pushed her onto a bench.

“Mr. Buenrostro crossed his arms in a x manner and proceeded to place both his form (sic) arms around her neck preventing her to breath,” the probable cause affidavit states.

The woman told police she pushed him off but he pushed her back down “followed by Mr. Buenrostro applying his forearms on her neck again causing her to stop breathing for a second time,” the charging document states.

The alleged attack ended after an unknown person was walking toward them, causing Buenrostro to panic and leave, according to Mercedes police.

On Oct. 8, at 8:57 p.m., Hernandez, the police investigator, obtained a video statement where the woman told him the same story, according to the affidavit.

Mercedes police arrested him and according to available official records, he was arraigned in Mercedes Municipal Court on a charge of murder and assault family violence, impeding breath.

He remains in the Hidalgo County Detention Center on a total of $300,000 in bonds.

A death notice or obituary for the alleged victim have not turned up, and Mercedes police say in their own probable cause affidavit that she spoke to an investigator last Thursday night — four days after the alleged attack.