The associate of a supposed Texas witch doctor will stand trial next week in the killing of a father who planned to confront the shaman over a proposed exorcism of his teenage son that allegedly involved lurid sex acts.
Santos Botello, 43, is suspected of killing Francisco Esparza in 2017 near Alvin, Texas, local news outlet KTRK-TV reported. Esparza’s son told police that he believes Botello’s boss, alleged witch doctor and “Mexican card reader" Jose Ybarra Leyva, orchestrated the killing after the teenager told his father that the suspected sham sorcerer told him sex acts would rid him of a dangerous curse, according previous reporting in the Houston Chronicle. Leyva is also charged in Esparza's death.
The youth allegedly first came into contact with Leyva at a high school athletic event, and over the course of their relationship the teenager claimed Leyva gifted him approximately $1,600 in jewelry, clothing, and food, according to KTRK-TV.
The teen, who’s now 19, said Leyva told him he was possessed by a demon known as the “Black Reaper,” which could only be exercised through erotic massages and oral sex with another man, according to the ABC affiliate.
The unsettling rituals would supposedly be performed by an unknown man who would “suck out the Black Reaper,” the Houston Chronicle reported. Leyva – who allegedly convinced the teen he was cursed and that the possession was to blame for a recent family death – told the teenager the bizarre rites also involved praying and rubbing olive oil on his genitals. If he didn’t proceed with the sessions, the witch doctor allegedly told him “something bad” would happen to his family.
Leyva also allegedly offered to have sexual intercourse with the young man to cure him, but the teen refused, according to a court affidavit obtained by KTRK-TV.
When Esparza learned of the proposed exorcism, he asked his son for Leyva’s contact information. He was shot to death a short time later, police said.
"That's what started all of this and led up to the murder," Maj. Douglas Hudson of the Galveston County Sheriff's Department said in 2017, the Chronicle reported.
Ricardo Posada and Jaime Posada Jr., who allegedly confessed to witnessing the fatal shooting of Esparza in a Ford F-150 pickup truck, are also accused of taking part in Esparza’s slaying. The pair allegedly claimed they were under the impression they would be carrying out a robbery, not a killing. Cell phone records reportedly linked the accused killers to Esparza's slaying.
When detectives presented the mobile phone records to Leyva, investigators said he claimed that Botello and the Posadas had been instructed to "beat someone up ... not to kill nobody."
In 2017, a KTRK-TV reporter confronted Levya near his home, asking him "Do you practice witchcraft?" The man denied the claims, simply answering, "no."
Botello was arrested in 2017 after evading police and crashing into another vehicle, the Galveston County Daily News reported. He was charged with aggravated assault and fleeing law enforcement in a vehicle. He was booked on a $250,000 bond for each separate charge, KPRC-TV also reported. Botello is expected to appear in court next week.
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