I met Keith Sepulvedo when I was just 16 years old. When I was 17, he began pressuring me to marry him. I really didn't want to, but he began threatening harm to my family if I continued to refuse. Because of this, I married him in May 1988.
It was not long after that when the abuse started, and his possessiveness became out of control. I became pregnant and quickly lost the baby because he kicked me violently in the back during one of his rages. Then, two months later, I became pregnant again.
One night, he held me up against the wall by my throat until I passed out. I firmly believe he thought that he had killed me. I steadfastly resolved that I would not continue to put the precious baby that I was carrying inside me in jeopardy. I left him in the middle of the night. It was extremely difficult getting away from him, but I was successful. On July 26, 1989, my beautiful baby girl, Shaina Lynette Sepulvedo was born. She made all that I had endured worth every minute.
Marcia and Shaina
It was the summer of 1989, and the first time I ever saw him. I was eight months pregnant. I remember looking out my mother's kitchen window across the pasture to my sister's house, as he walked across the yard with my nephews, Michael and Billy. He wore a long black trench coat and had long, light brown hair. Although I didn't know who he was, I thought that he looked "interesting". I saw him over the next year or so from a distance and I eventually inquired of him. I was told he is James Kelly. He's a "bad boy", and I shouldn't be asking about him. After all, I had a new baby girl, Shaina Lynette. So as time passed, I thought of him less often.
Growing up, my mother Mary had a close friend named Faye. Faye had a son, Garry Lowery, and we were the best of friends from a young age. Both of our mothers regularly voiced that they wanted us to be a couple while we were growing up. Because of this, we both felt an obligation to our mothers. Garry's mother, Faye, passed away before he was an adult. This caused him to feel the need to carry out his mother's wish even more. So we ended up marrying in May 1990, and I gave birth to Katelyn Faye Lowery (K.K.) on February 27, 1992.
In the beginning, our marriage seemed like a fairy tale and I was blissfully happy. After a few years, it took a bad turn when Garry resumed smoking marijuana and spending increasingly more time with his friend, Stan. Eventually, our family became less important to Garry. One evening, as he sat viewing a television program, K.K. and Shaina approached him to kiss him goodnight. He responded by pushing them away because he was "high" and didn't want to be bothered by them. The crushed look on both of their faces forced me to realize that no matter how hard we tried, we could not compete with his drug habit. I decided to give him the freedom he longed for, and we filed for divorce.
I met Jason Smith shortly after leaving Garry. Jason was living with my sister's family. He was generally a nice man. He was caring, understanding, and always thoughtful. I was definitely not used to this treatment in a relationship. We began dating and soon thereafter, I became pregnant. Jami Nicole Smith was born on February 7, 1993. Even though we never married, Jason and I remained close friends long after our relationship ended.
Jami and Brant
On April 17, 1992, I went to a party and noticed James Kelly immediately. I thought, finally after almost waiting three years since I'd first seen him, I was now meeting James face to face. As the night passed, we talked and had a few drinks. He offered to give me a ride home, and of course, I accepted. I felt like we had an instant connection to each other. Even though a few years had passed since I had laid eyes on him, I still thought he was interesting. Especially with his bad boy reputation, I seemed drawn to him. I can't really explain the feeling. After arriving at my house, we talked and kissed a little, and then he left. I sat there in amazement that not only had I finally met him, but I had spent time with him and kissed him. A short while later he returned and one thing led to another, and so began our 13 year tumultuous relationship.
We had our share of problems, broke up at times, and even dated other people. But we always found our way back to each other. We were scheduled to marry on February 14, 1995. Even though we had our marriage license, I called it off. He was scheduled to go to jail for a short time (which turned out to be 18 months), and I wasn't sure I could be faithful, so I refused to marry him. He was released in early 1997, and I was with someone else. Soon after his release we were again back together. In May 1997, the three of us girls moved to Cushing to live with James. Prior to this, on June 8, 1995, my world as I knew it forever changed in a grave and fatal way. An air-conditioner at my mother's house shorted out and started a fire in the middle of the night taking the lives of my beloved K.K. and mother. My baby girl was only four years old.
There were actually six children in the house at the time of the fire, because my mother babysat for three other children in addition to my three. One of the other children woke up abruptly to discover the fire and immediately screamed for help, waking everyone else up, or so they thought. K.K. was the only child that did not wake up. As soon as my mother discovered that K.K. was still in the house, she ran back into the burning house to rescue her granddaughter. My mother and my daughter both perished inside the burning house. Our lives were forever shattered that night, never to be complete again. Fire Newpaper Report Obituary
Marcia's Mother Mary, and Katelyn
James and I still had our ups and downs, and even separated a few times, but we always ended up back together. We were good together and we loved each other. We continued to build our future together and I began working at Nu-Way Truck Stop in July 1998 as a cashier to supplement our income since I was attending college. I proved to be an asset to the company, and was promoted to working in their office. I then became a registered Respiratory Therapist. James had recently built a successful trucking business and I had began moonlighting with a part-time Moonwalk Rental Business.
Marcia College Graduation
We married on February 14, 2003. Eight years from the original date. It was the one day of the year he wanted to be married on and that's why we patiently waited that long for the 14th to fall on a weekend.
Shaina and Marcia
As all couples do, we had our share of disagreements. A lot of our arguments were over our kids, because we had different ideas of how to raise and discipline them. I was exceedingly more lenient than James. I think it was because I had lost K.K. in the house fire. James already had two boys, David and James, Jr. I had Shaina and Jami. We didn't have any kids together. David lived next door to us with James' parents because they had adopted him. The other three children lived with us. I would always defend all of the kids even when I knew they were wrong; Shaina more than the others, mainly because she was the oldest. Shaina and James argued more than any of the other younger kids. He put a lot of pressure on her, and expected more from her than he did the others. James wanted to be a father figure to Shaina. Shaina didn't want a father and pushed James away because he wasn't her biological father. It escalated to the point where I allowed Shaina to move out when she was 15 in order to keep a little peace in the house. That was not successful, and Shaina eventually moved back home. At times, I felt trapped and torn in a war between my daughter and my husband. Each would tell me I loved the other more. It really hurt me deeply, especially since I had lost K.K. I began to try to pacify both of them, just so I wouldn't have to deal with the problems they continued to have with each other.
Once, after a very intense fight, I did talk to Jesse when I was mad and asked him if he'd kill James for me, then I said "Nah, just give me a gun and I'll do it myself." Then when I was over my mad spell, and told him I didn't mean it. Jesse was one of Shaina's boyfriends. When I insisted that they break up, neither of them took it well. Jesse and his dad came to the house one evening and James and Jesse got into it, and James hit Jesse and then his dad ran over James with the van. James went to jail for assault on Jesse. That was the end of Jesse coming around. Jesse testified in court against me, even though he was unable to identify me. Then his brother, Jason, contradicted his testimony. Only in Texas would this be allowed. Prior to our lives getting so out of control, sometimes when James and I would drink, we would argue. I would mouth off about killing him and being done with it all. He'd laugh at me and say "One of these days right in the kisser" and he'd hit his fist into his hands, just like Jackie Gleason and Alice on the old TV. show "The Honeymooners."
A few months later, Joe came into the picture and started dating Shaina. Joe didn't have a driver's license, so I helped him get one. Joe didn't have a vehicle, so James and I fixed an older car that I had that needed a transmission in it. This provided them a way to get around and be able to go and do things. I even bought him clothes, because he had very few, and no family to help him. I insured the car and paid for his gas or anything else he ever needed. When Shaina and Joe moved in with my friend, Andy, who was also James' cousin, I even paid for their groceries. Once when James and I had been fighting, I supposedly asked Joe to kill James. He testified I had asked once jokingly, but he didn't remember if it was in person or on the phone. He said he just thought I was being crazy, and I was. Even after Shaina and Joe split up, I allowed him to keep the car so he could continue to work. He was supposed to be buying the car from me, but he never made any payments. I never even asked him to return it. After I was incarcerated, I heard that it broke down on him, and he just left it on the side of the road for the State to dispose of.
When I was attending Angelina College in Lufkin, Texas, part of our curriculum was to do neonatal training in Houston at Hermann Hospital. We went every three weeks for one semester, Friday through Sunday, commencing in January 2002. Looking back now, I can remember that is when some odd things started happening that didn't make sense.
At the time, I was so busy with school, working, and taking care of James and the kids that I never tried to make sense of things. Once, during my second trip for training in Houston, I kept trying to call home and couldn't reach anyone. It was on a Friday night, so I proceeded to call James' cell phone and after a few tries, he finally answered around 11pm. When I asked where he was, he told me that he was with Shaina, and they were driving on the back roads. He said he was drinking a few beers and that Shaina was driving. I found it odd at the time, because it was a new F-150 pick-up and Shaina was not quite 13 years old. Since there was so much animosity between the two of them, I quickly dismissed my concern and was thankful they were finally getting along.
Not long after this, Shaina started complaining of her stomach hurting. She'd call me and beg me to come home. Upon reflection, I remember it only happened on nights that I was working or away from home and she was with James at home. She went to several doctors for over 2 1/2 years in Lufkin, Houston, and Longview. Myriad tests were performed on her and not one of them ever found anything diagnostically wrong with her. Finally, Shaina abruptly moved out and went to live with her father, Keith. Prior to this, they'd never had any contact with each other. She had just recently commenced talking with him for the past month over the telephone. At the time I felt hurt, angry, and betrayed, only later to find out that it had nothing to do with me at all.
Prior to her moving out, I once found James' favorite adult sex toy in Shaina's bedroom. At the time, I just assumed Shaina was nosey and curious. I did not want to embarrass Shaina or anger James, so I just kept quiet and threw it away. I quickly purchased a new one hoping that James wouldn't notice it was missing. Of course in hindsight, I realize this was a huge red flag.
This flashback reminded me of when James and I found out that Shaina was having sex with Jesse. I was upset, but James' anger was far more than what was appropriate for a step-father. Again, I shrugged it off because I assumed James just didn't understand teenage girls.
Now I can't understand how I was so blind and naive. I was informed by a guard at the Nacogdoches County Jail, two weeks before my trial, that Shaina was having nightmares from her memories of James molesting her. Looking back, the pieces to the puzzle fit together. Why he let her drive his brand-new truck. Why she would call me crying in the middle of the night complaining that her stomach hurt so badly that I would have to leave work. By the time that I arrived, she would be asleep on the couch, exhausted from crying, and when I'd wake her up, she'd just cling to me and tell me that my holding her made her feel better. All this time I was having doctors order all kinds of painful tests for her. Why she moved out with a father whom she's only known his name. Why James was so furious when he found out about her and Jesse having sex.
During my trial when the D.A., Stephanie Stephens asked Shaina why she never told anyone, Shaina answered because James had threatened to hurt me, and to start molesting Jami (her younger sister), whom he knew she adored. Stephens called her a liar and an evil person.
I now know that James' threats were typical behavior of a child molester. No one wants to believe or face that her husband would do these sorts of things. I know I never imagined it. It grieves me to know that Shaina suffered because she was afraid that James would inflict the same pain on her sister and mother. That is exactly what happened to my beautiful daughter, Shaina.
Saturday, October 22, 2005 was just another normal day, or so I thought. Tracy, James, Jr.'s mom, picked him up so that he could spend the night with her. At this time, James and one of his drivers were working on his trucks. As I left for work that evening, I took Jami and dropped her off at her father's house for the night. I then went to work at Lufkin Memorial Hospital. Shaina was off with friends. I talked with James over the telephone several times that night as usual. During one of our calls he told me that Shaina had come by around 9pm and picked up some clothes because she wanted to stay at a friend’s house since Jami and James, Jr. were both away. I then tried to call Shaina several times, but her phone wasn't working. I know this because I called AT&T. AT&T checked the line and told me it was out of order and they then submitted a work order.
It was sometime after midnight that I talked with James. He was inside the house cleaning his head wound. He told me he hit his head while working on a truck, and that it was bleeding. He assured me that it wasn't serious and instructed me not to worry. I continued to check on him by telephone, and the last time I spoke with James was around 2:30 am on October 23rd. He informed me that he was going to take a shower and go to bed and requested that I call and wake him up around 7 am, so he could finish up on his truck. We were scheduled to attend a dinner at noon at my sister's home for my niece, Briana, who was visiting from Washington. I had absolutely no idea that would be the last time that I would speak with my husband. Shaina called me from a pay phone to inform me that she was on her way home. I said ok, and thought nothing of it.
Some time had passed and I was making my rounds checking on the ventilators, then Shaina called me again. I couldn't really talk because I was in a patient's room. When I answered my cell phone, Shaina told me, "It's over- there's nothing left." I told her I couldn't talk and requested she call me back. I continued my work by checking my patients on ventilators. Around 7am, I called home, and the answering machine activated. I spoke loudly calling to James, trying to wake him up. I then called again, three or four times with no answer. This wasn't unusual because James was a hard sleeper.
I then called his step-dad, David Bone, and asked him if he'd go arouse James. It wasn't long before David called me back and said that he couldn't get him to awaken. He inquired if I wanted him to go back and try again to awaken James. I replied "yes" because I knew he needed to finish his truck repair prior to the gathering at my sister's house.
It couldn't have been more than 5 minutes later when my cell phone rang again. This time the call came from our home telephone number. I immediately expected the call to be from James. Instead it was David informing me that something was terribly wrong. He proceeded to inform me that he poked James with his cane but that James was not moving at all. He also said that James had blood on the side of his mouth. He assured me that 911 had already been called prior to his calling me.
Immediately, I told my supervisor I had to go because something was wrong with my husband. While driving, I thought back to the phone call from Shaina. I became increasingly worried, even thought I didn't understand what she meant. I called Kevin (James' friend) and asked him to meet me at the store close by and asked him to accompany me to our house. I relayed to him what I had been told. While I waited at the store for Kevin, Shaina called me and I was crying. She inquired what was wrong and I told her something had happened to James, and I accidentally dropped the phone. I have no idea is she even said anything in response to me. When I retrieved it, I instructed her to call me later and I abruptly hung up. Kevin finally arrived and we left. It was about 20 miles to Cushing.
As we turned on Highway 204, David called me again and told me James had died, and that he is no longer with us. I started screaming NO-NO-NO and crying. I was told that I then became silent like I was in a state of shock. When we arrived to our house, I proceeded to enter and was stopped by police officers. I desperately wanted to see James and all I could think of was to ask if I would be allowed to feed our dogs. They allowed me to enter but not as far as I wanted. (This was used against me in court- saying all I cared about was feeding the dogs.) I wanted access into the house. I couldn't believe what they were all saying about James, and I thought if I could see him I could prove he was still alive.
Later on in the day, the officers escorted me into the living room and spoke with me. I was then asked to accompany one of deputies to the Sheriff’s office for questioning. I was told that it was routine, and I had nothing to be concerned about. I gave a statement of some prior events and was then driven back home around 3:30pm. I was emotionally and physically exhausted because in addition to the horror of finding out my husband was dead, I had worked the night before from 6:00pm to 7:20am. When I arrived home, Bill Ball, the police investigator, met me outside.
I immediately begged him to tell me how James died. He replied, "You mean no one has told you?" I said, "No." He then proceeded to tell me that James had been shot, and he asked if that surprised me. I told him, "Yes," and he questioned me, "Why?" I explained to him about James hitting his head.
On Monday evening, Colton Weir, (15 years old) and Shaina Sepulvado, (16 years old and my daughter), were arrested. At this time the authorities again wanted to speak with me. I gave no statement at this time. On Tuesday, Dallas Christian (23 years old and Shaina's boyfriend), Gary Bachlor (15 years old), Billy Loftin (this person I didn't know) were all arrested. They were all charged with murder.
The following Wednesday afternoon, I was at the funeral home with family. We were making final arrangements and viewing James' body. When I went to my car, there was a message on my cell phone from Bill Ball, asking me to call him. I called and he said that he had a few more questions and requested that after I was finished would I mind "stopping by" on my way home? I went accompanied by my 12 year old daughter, Jami. When I walked in, Thomas Kerss (the Sheriff) escorted Jami and took my keys into his office while I was led into another room.
Bill Ball was there along with another officer, Tom Davis (a Texas Ranger). Now this is my third time to speak with the authorities. I asked them if we'd be finished by the time the funeral services were to start that evening, and I was told "they didn't know".
After 20 or 30 minutes, Davis then pulled a card from his shirt pocket and said, "Oh, I forgot to read you this" and started reading my Miranda rights. I interrupted him and asked why he was now reading me those because no one prior had and he responded, "Because I work for the State and not the County, and I am required to read them in order to talk to you." Because I was naive, and since I had done nothing wrong, I just replied, "Ok." When I didn't respond in the way that they wanted me to, they would tell me, "No, that's not right." I begged three times to go to the restroom before I was permitted to go. The entire interrogation was recorded without my knowledge.
Toward the end of the interrogation, I was given a second written statement. On the tape recording it clearly depicts Bill Ball asking me to include certain details of my statement. I was exhausted and feel like he coerced me. The recording includes many inferences and has questions and answers that are unclear to the listener and make absolutely no sense.
When I was almost finished writing my statement, they proceeded to state, "This may come as a surprise, but we have a warrant for your arrest." I asked, "For what?", and they replied, "Capital Murder." I asked, "What is Capital?" They then said I hired those kids, to which I replied, "No, I didn't." I asked if I would be allowed to smoke a cigarette, so Bill Ball went to the Sheriff's office and retrieved my keys, and went to my car and picked up my cigarettes. I inquired where Jami was and they told me, "The Sheriff had my niece, Shelly Burch come and pick her up.
And that is my story, where it all began and where it all ended. My trial and appellant attorneys were both court appointed and their loyalties clearly did not lie with their client. In the legal section of this site, you will see exactly what I mean. I hope you'll continue to read on.
I'm hoping someone out there will open their heart and take the time needed to help me right this awful wrongful conviction. I need legal representation, paralegal services, and donations to help pay for the services. I hope you'll help me not to become yet another one of Texas' famous wrongfully convicted, who spends numerous unnecessary years behind bars for a crime I didn't commit.
Your prayers are also needed. Thank you.
Marcia with Rose and Jami
No one is hopeless whose hope is in God. Therefore, I am not hopeless for my hope is in God, and He will touch someone's heart to help me.
Is He touching you?