The suspect in a brutal slaying of a grandmother of six over a small amount of money and a car battery was in court this week on capital murder charges, after he was caught at the scene and police say he confessed to the crime.
The shocking murder took place in the Houston suburb of Sharpstown early this week, either late Sunday night or early on Monday, police say.
Etta Nugent, 75, was found dead by her son, after she failed to show up to visit her husband, who was in a convalescent care facility recovering from a medical procedure. Nugent had three children and six grandchildren. She was a retired parish secretary at Holy Ghost Catholic Church. Her friend and neighbor Sharon Shanahan told KHOU that Nugent was "well loved" by family as well as her friends and neighbors. "She's just salt of the Earth," said Shanahan.
Nugent was stabbed over and over in a murder that lasted from 40 minutes to an hour, according to police, because she opened the door to a man seeking help. She was unable to help him repair his stolen truck ""because of her age," reported the Houston Chronicle.
The man, identified as Marco Cobos, 19, invoked his fifth amendment right to remain silent in his first court appearance, according to his attorney Alvin Nunnery, who spoke with reporters shortly after leaving court, where he also revealed Cobos "country of origin" and that his last known whereabouts was Phoenix, Arizona.
"There is some question about whether he's in the country legally or not," said his attorney. Cobos is referred to in reports as a Mexican national. He also said separately that Cobos has been in the United States for 18 years.
The grisly murder was apparently spontaneous, like the confession. According to authorities, Cobos stabbed the victim but failed to kill her, by his own account, and sought more knives from the kitchen before returning to stab her again repeatedly.
During an interview, police said he confessed to forcing his way into the home. He forced his way into the home as Nugent spoke to him through a crack in the door. He stabbed her in the chest and went to the kitchen to find more knives, according to prosecutors.
He heard the doorbell ring and saw Nugent on the front porch trying to escape. Cobos said he went outside and grabbed her in a "bear hug." He got more knives from the kitchen and continued stabbing her until she died.
Cobos took her car keys and about $560 from her purse to buy food and a new battery for the stolen F-150, prosecutors said. He returned again to eat and look through her belongings, prosecutors said.
During the hours Cobos spent in Nugent's home after murdering her, he not only had a meal but used her credit cards to pay his own cell phone bill.
Police were on the scene investigating Monday evening, following Nugent's son's discovery of her body, when Cobos attempted to return to her home in her stolen vehicle. He was caught at around 8:30pm a few doors down.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Nugent pleaded for her life during the torturous killing.
Cobos was held without bond.