Families fight for killer to stay behind bars

Jennifer Ertman, Elizabeth Pena were raped, murdered in 1993

HUNTSVILLE, Texas - The families of two teenagers who were raped and murdered in June 1993 are fighting to keep one of the killers in prison.

Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16, were attacked by six gang members as they took a shortcut home from a party, trying to make their 11:30 p.m. curfew.

The girls were abducted by ringleader Peter Cantu and his crew, who had just finished a gang initiation in T.C. Jester Park. The girls were repeatedly raped, strangled, beaten and stomped beyond recognition.

Venancio Medellin received a 40-year sentence. He was 14 at the time of the killings and claimed to have only participated in the rapes.

Medellin is up for parole now. The victims' families met with the pardons and parole board Tuesday to try to convince members to keep Medellin behind bars.

"I want this man to be in prison for the rest of his life. I'm sorry I said 'man.' I want that piece of crap to die in prison ... and I'll do whatever I have to do to make sure he stays in prison," said Randy Ertman, Jennifer Ertman's father. "Would you want him to be your neighbor? Would you want him living next door to you? He's a murdering rapist. Jenny and Elizabeth, they didn't have a choice. He had a choice. He could have walked away, but he didn't."

For Medellin to be released, five board members would have to give their approval. The board will make its decision in about two months.

This is the fourth time Medellin has been up for parole. Each time, Randy and Sandra Ertman have been forced to relive their daughter's death.

"You wake up in the morning and you look at your daughter's picture and you have a hole in your heart," Randy Ertman said. "I don't know that it ever gets better."

Cantu, Derrick O'Brien and Jose Medellin, Venancio Medellin's brother, were executed for their roles in the killings.

Efrain Perez and Raul Villarreal were originally sentenced to death but later had those sentences commuted to life in prison because they were under 17 years old at the time of the killing. They will be eligible for parole in 2028.

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