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Defendant opens door for infidelity motive

For more than a week, prosecutors have been itching to tell a jury details about what they say was a love affair that may have caused a 44-year-old man to beat to death his wife's ex-husband five years ago. The prosecutors' chance finally came Wednesday, and it arrived indirectly from the defendant, Ronald Eby.

Defense attorneys had called Eby to the stand hoping to answer the question of how his DNA got under the fingernails of a dead man he claims he never met and whose badly decomposed body was found in a house Eby claims he's never visited.

The DNA match is the only physical evidence linking Eby to the crime scene.

Roland Cervera's body was found inside the Southeast Side house he was refurbishing in 1998.

Cervera once was married to Eby's wife, Deborah Gallegos.

Eby testified that Gallegos was concerned about the unkempt condition of the home Cervera was planning to buy, since the two were splitting time taking care of their son.

Eby told a jury he gave Gallegos permission to help Cervera spruce up the home and gave her a pair of his work gloves.

Eby's attorneys have suggested a DNA transfer came through the gloves, and not the violent struggle prosecutors have hinted at.

While Eby's story was heard by the jury, so were questions about infidelity on the part of his wife.

During cross-examination of Eby, prosecutor Lisa Rodriguez-Duron fired out a list of questions about what she said were clues Eby had that Gallegos' relationship with her ex-husband went beyond dropping off her son for visits. Prosecutors hope the details will establish a motive for the killing.

Eby repeatedly denied knowing about any relationship.

Throughout the questioning, defense attorney Bobby Barrera griped about each of the questions, saying they were leaving the jury with a false impression of an affair his client didn't know about.

Adding more drama, Gallegos took the stand against the advice of an attorney and denied having an affair with Cervera.

Gallegos also rejected earlier testimony Wednesday from a real estate agent who said she met with Cervera and a woman named "Debbie" during a house-buying hunt weeks before the slaying.

The agent's testimony came one day after she didn't show up in court to testify and a warrant for her arrest was issued.

Eby and Gallegos became the focus of Texas Ranger J.D. Robertson's "cold case" investigation after authorities dismissed capital murder charges against a different man for lack of evidence.

Robertson used details of the alleged affair and the DNA he obtained from Eby to arrest the former San Antonio Water System employee.

Closing arguments are expected today.

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