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Carlos Rico was the man at the center of a case that shocked the Big Country. In June of 2011, Rico strangled his young son, then dumped him along the side of Interstate 20 in Sweetwater. On Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, 32nd Judicial District Judge Glen Harrison found Rico not guilty of attempted capital murder by reason of insanity.
"It was my position all along that he was not competent to stand trial, but even much more important is he was not sane at the time of offense," said Michael Brown, Rico's attorney.
After months of treatment at Vernon State Hospital, Rico was evaluated by a Big Spring doctor who ruled that Rico insane at the time that he committed the offense. Rico went before a judge Monday, who ruled that Rico had a low level of psychosis at the time of the event, according to the doctor's evaluation. Rico claims he was hearing voices and was having hallucinations.
"Once we realized the extent of the case, it took on a whole new level of intensity," said Sweetwater Police Det. Lance Richburg.
Over the past couple of months, Rico's condition has improved. After a psychiatric evaluation showed improvement in his psychosis, Rico was allowed to stand trial.
Detective Richburg was one of the officers who handled Angel's case after he was found on the side of the road last June. The boy had strangulation marks on his face and neck, and cactus thorns covered his body.
"I can remember being out there in the heat and seeing the little footprints, marking off the 255 yards he had to walk until he was found on the interstate," Richburg said.
Richburg says he got to know Angel well in the months leading up to the trail, and wanted to make sure justice was served.
"My partner and I both have children, we weren't driven emotionally, but there was certainly a different kind of attachment than on most cases," Richburg said.
Rico will spend 30 days in a maximum security state hospital. He will then come back to Nolan County and face the same judge, who will decide based on treatment if Rico will continue to stay in the hospital or be an outpatient.
A trial is set for May 21, 2012 to decide Angel's final placement. He's currently in foster care in Lubbock.