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Man convicted in stabbing death in poor health; new trial motion delayed

Staff Report • Jul 1, 2013 at 3:02 PM

A motion for a new trial in a first-degree murder case was delayed Thursday because the defendant’s health has deteriorated to the point he may soon be on life support, according to a judge.

Poncho Delgado, 44, suffers from various health conditions that have caused him problems for many years and was part of why his case took so long to go to trial. He was convicted earlier this year in the May 25, 2006, stabbing death of 41-year-old Robert Curtis. Curtis was stabbed 36 times in the heart and lung, then his house was set on fire, according to police and fire investigators.

Curtis’ body was found by firefighters when they responded to the blaze on East Fairview Avenue.

Washington County Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp said Thursday he had signed an order to send Delgado back to state prison. Delgado is being housed at the DeBerry Special Needs facility in Nashville where he receives treatment for his health conditions, which include liver disease.

Delgado was apparently in need of hospital care this week when Cupp decided to delay the hearing and send him back.

Witnesses at the trial — including Delgado’s sister June Lopez Little, his cousin James Hale and an acquaintance, Bonnie Peck — testified Delgado told them he killed a man and needed help. Delgado testified he was not at Curtis’ house the night Curtis was killed, and he didn’t know what he meant when he told an investigator, “I didn’t mean to kill that guy.”

A psychological examiner, William Stanley, who tested Delgado several months after the murder testified Delgado has a borderline intelligence level and Stanley believes Delgado uses words he doesn’t understand so he’ll “fit in” with the people around him.

Bowman during the trial that Little, Hale and Peck all had reason to lie to police about Delgado — Little because she needed help with a probation violation, Peck because he conned her for a ride to Bristol but didn’t deliver the $50 rock of crack cocaine he promised and Hale because Delgado said he was racist.

Delgado testified he went to Tyler Apartments the night in question, but he said he only went to Hale’s apartment for a pair of shoes after he broke his flip flops running from a pack of dogs.

Peck testified Delgado approached her that night, was covered in blood and asked for a change of clothes. Peck said her brother gave Delgado clothes and let him clean up, but didn’t have shoes to fit him. Delgado got shoes from Hale.

There is no new date set for Delgado’s motion for a new trial to be heard.

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