Onyeri says judge had ‘real courage’ to testify about shooting

Crime
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Defendant Chimene Onyeri said he was “upset” with Travis County District Judge Julie Kocurek after he visited her courtroom in 2015 and learned his probation was at risk of being revoked.

Onyeri said he didn’t think she was treating him fairly. But, he said, that changed last week when Kocurek testified about the night she was shot.

“I was sad,” Onyeri said during the 17th and final day of testimony in his trial. “I mean, initially I wasn’t going to testify, but when I seen her get on the stand and she didn’t even know what happened. She was just — She was confused, man, and giving her testimony, I mean, me looking at a woman with courage. I mean real courage (being) on the stand.”

Onyeri said the prosecutors showed graphic photos of Kocurek’s injuries while she testified last Thursday to “draw some type of emotion.” He was impressed by how she kept her composure.

“Through the things that (Prosecutor Gregg Sofer) was showing on the exhibit, like reliving it and just, I mean, keeping it together,” Onyeri testified. “That was superhuman, man.”

Onyeri faces federal charges related to fraud and racketeering schemes related to the attempted capital murder of Kocurek. He was wanted in Travis County for violating his probation in connection with a case in Kocurek’s courtroom regarding new allegations related to debit card fraud.

Onyeri, who admitted to shooting four times into Kocurek’s vehicle’s window on Nov. 6, 2015, was offended when prosecutors asked him about shooting the judge.

“Quit saying I shot the judge. The judge was shot,” said Onyeri, who testified for the third trial day in a row. “I didn’t know she was in the car.”

He was on the stand for about an hour Tuesday as the defense’s only and final witness before both sides rested their case.

Sofer said they called a total of 60 witnesses to testify against Onyeri, including several of his friends and co-conspirators as well as law enforcement officers and medical personnel who treated Kocurek throughout her weeks of recovery.

Kocurek, who underwent about 20 surgeries including one to amputate an index finger, testified on Thursday as the prosecution’s final witness and said she was afraid she was going to die in front of her son.

During her testimony, Kocurek said her body has “miraculously” healed, but the scars from her injuries still cause her to feel like her skin is extremely tight. She’s had to fight hard at surgery just to regain use of her injured hand and is dealing with psychological trauma, including moments when she wanted to die and thought her family would be better off without her.

“It was a very dark time,” she said last week.

The jury will be back in court at 9 a.m. Wednesday to hear closing arguments, nearly a month after Onyeri’s trial began on March 26.

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