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April 16, 2014

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Murder trial delayed for brothers accused in teacher’s death

Trial for 2008 slaying of Basic High School choir teacher Matthew Cox was to begin this week

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Matthew Thomas Cox

Two brothers accused of robbing and killing Basic High School teacher Matthew Cox almost two years ago have had their trial delayed.

Jose Delatorre, 20, and Juan Aguirre, 19, were to stand trial this week for the murder of the 32-year-old high school choir teacher they had befriended.

However, court documents show there was a motion by the defense not to use a video found by investigators at the brothers' apartment that prosecutors say shows them celebrating the day after Cox was killed, with items that belonged to the teacher seen in the video.

Their next court appearance is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Nov. 30 before Judge Valerie Vega, where a new trial date will be set.

Delatorre and Aguirre each face six charges, including murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary, kidnapping and grand larceny-auto in the Dec. 22, 2008, death of Cox. They are being held in the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

The slaying took place the night before Cox was to take a flight to Michigan for Christmas. Prosecutors say the brothers' motive was to rob items from Cox's home that they could then exchange for methamphetamine and marijuana. The brothers have said they only intended to rob, not kill, Cox.

According to recent court papers filed by Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert Daskas, on Sunday, Dec., 21, 2008, Aguirre, a former student of Cox, and his brother, Delatorre, visited Cox at his apartment. The visit lasted past midnight and into the early morning hours of Monday, Dec. 22, 2008, court papers said.

Then Cox drove the two brothers to their home on East Stewart Avenue in Las Vegas, prosecutors said.

Cox had a flight reservation on Northwest Airlines to leave Las Vegas at 6:50 a.m. that same day, but "never made the flight," prosecutors said.

"Unbeknownst to Matthew, Juan and Jose had formulated a plan days earlier to rob Matthew. In furtherance of their plan, while Matthew was parked in the lot of Juan and Jose's home ... Juan and Jose exchanged text messages in which they confirmed their earlier plan," prosecutors said.

The last message in the exchange was from Jose to Juan at 1:36 a.m.: "I'ma get him from the back and you better start hitting him."

"Juan and Jose executed their plan by beating and strangling Matthew in his car," prosecutors said in the court document. "They then dragged Matthew into the backseat of his car and drove Matthew's car back to Matthew's home."

Prosecutors wrote that the brothers carried Cox into his apartment, laid him on his couch, removed a number of items from his home and loaded the items into Cox's car.

They then drove the car to their home, where they unloaded the stolen items, which included a Yamaha guitar and case, a Wii game system and accessories, "Guitar Hero" guitar and accessories, DVDs, CDs, prescription medication in the victim's name, and the victim's flight reservation paperwork, prosecutors said.

The brothers told their mother, Norma Sanchez, what they had done and she volunteered to drive Cox's stolen car to the Club Fortune Casino at 725 S. Racetrack Road in Henderson, where she abandoned it in the parking lot before heading to work at Dunkin Donuts, prosecutors wrote.

The car was later recovered by police, prosecutors said.

About 2:50 p.m. Monday, Dec. 22, 2008, one of Cox's friends discovered his body in his living room, prosecutors said. On that same day Aguirre and his mother worked their scheduled shifts at Dunkin Donuts at 1340 S. Boulder Highway, "which is walking distance from the casino where Sanchez abandoned Cox's car," prosecutors said.

About 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008, surveillance was established outside the brothers' home, prosecutors said. The brothers were seen carrying Cox's stolen laptop computers to a neighbor's home, where they made a trade with their neighbor for marijuana and methamphetamines, prosecutors said.

Police recovered the laptops and the methamphetamines, prosecutors said. The brothers were arrested that day.

Police then executed a search warrant at their home and recovered Cox's stolen merchandise, prosecutors said. They also impounded a video camera that contained a six-minute video showing the two brothers on the night of Dec. 22, after Aguirre had finished his shift at Dunkin Donuts, prosecutors said.

"The video can only be described as a 'celebration' by Juan and Jose," prosecutors said. "They are seen smoking marijuana while listening to music and dancing. Through the video, the property the defendants stole from Matthew Cox is visible."

Court documents say the defendants claim the video is inadmissible because it isn't relevant.

However, prosecutors argued that it was admissible because "The video completely contradicts the notion that one of them committed a crime against the other's wishes or without the other's knowledge. ... The video, at a minimum, makes it less probable that either defendant acted alone."

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  1. I'll reserve judgement, round up the usual suspects and grill them...There have been cases like this in the last couple of years where people have "confessed" and then the case ends up failing apart like a cheap suit.