Man gets 11 years in shooting death following plea

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 20, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — A Salisbury man will serve at least 11 years in prison for the shooting death of his girlfriend at the home they shared in 2010.
Denis Omar Funez-Flores, 28, accepted an Alford plea Thursday morning to second-degree murder of Kendy Patricia “Patty” Funez, 25, and was sentenced to a minimum of slightly more than 11 and a half years to a maximum of 15 years.
An Alford plea allows a defendant to maintain his innocence while acknowledging prosecutors have sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.
The incident occurred Aug. 19 at the Oakhurst Drive mobile home Kendy Funez shared with Funez-Flores. The two were first cousins.
According to police reports and witnesses at the scene, the two argued prior to the shooting.
Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook read from law enforcement statements during the short plea hearing, which was held in Superior Court.
When Salisbury Police officers arrived at the murder scene, they saw people outside the home as well as inside, where Funez-Flores was.
Officers repeatedly asked Funez-Flores to sit down, but he kept walking and attempting to touch the victim.
Kendy Funez’s body had been moved from the floor to the bed. It was later discovered Funez-Flores moved her.
Investigators found a 20-gauge Mossberg shotgun in a master bedroom closet. They also found an air pistol and some marijuana in the home.
Funez-Flores first told Salisbury Police investigators the two thought they heard someone poking around outside and he took his shotgun as he looked around the house.
The two had been drinking; investigators counted 35 empty Corona beer bottles on the kitchen table.
The defendant said Kendy Funez walked toward him inside the master bedroom as he had the gun pointed. She pushed the gun away from her face and it “just went off.”
Kendy Funez was shot in the head with a 20-gauge at close range.
Detectives spoke with Maria Salazar, whose son, Christian, spoke with Funez-Flores not long after the shooting. Another son, Carlos, told his mother Funez-Flores indicated Kendy was unconscious and he was giving her CPR and poured water into her mouth before Carlos told him to stop.
It was not apparent to either Carlos or Christian that Kendy Funez had been shot since she was face down when they first arrived.
Funez-Flores told police he tried to call 911 several times but could not get through.
Police Detective Eric Williams reported it appeared a struggle occurred in the bedroom, Cook read from a statement.
Funez-Flores’ attorney, Craig Blitzer, told the court there was no denying his client had a weapon and that Kendy Funez was shot and killed.
The Greensboro attorney told the court Kendy’s blood alcohol was .06, less than the drunken driving threshold of .08.
Blitzer said he would have called expert witnesses had there been a trial to talk about the alcohol use.
Blitzer described possible scenarios his client could have faced if a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.
He said he and Cook tried to check the phone Funez-Flores was using at the time he said he called 911. But they could not tell if an emergency call had been made on the phone, which seemed to be a pre-paid cell phone.
Law enforcement officers questioned whether the woman had been dead for hours, but Blitzer said that wasn’t possible.
A neighbor called emergency dispatchers about hearing a gunshot and, within that same hour, the first officer checked in at the scene, Blitzer said.
“His behavior was one of someone who was panicked,” Blitzer said.
Jose Funez, uncle of both the defendant and the victim, said he believed the shooting was an accident and asked that the court be lenient.
In a low voice that at times was hard to hear, he said he asked the officers to consider less than life in prison.
Jose Funez said his nephew was working with him in an asbestos removal company and sending money back home to his family in Honduras.
Cook read a letter written by Kendy Funez’s mother, Olga, from Honduras, saying the two cousins lived in “matrimony” and asking the court to show mercy on Funez-Flores.
The two have a son, who apparently lives in Honduras as well.
Funez-Flores received credit for the time he spent in the Rowan County jail since his August 2010 arrest.
If Funez-Flores had gone to trial and been found guilty by a jury, he could have received a prison sentence with a minimum of nearly eight years and a maximum of 16 and a half years.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.