Slain UNT Student's Mother Testifies

The mother of a slain University of North Texas student testified Thursday at the trial of the man accused of raping and murdering the 19-year-old.

Ernesto Reyes is charged with capital murder in the death of Melanie Goodwin, a UNT sophomore. Prosecutors say Reyes raped and strangled Goodwin before burning her body.

"She was beautiful," Peggy Goodwin said of daughter.

Goodwin told Dallas County jurors she cannot bear to look at photographs of her daughter’s burned remains. She tearfully recalled the day detectives showed up at her door.

"They asked me if I had a picture, and I said, 'Please God, don’t that let be her,'" Goodwin said. "I got down on my knees and prayed, but I knew she was dead. It was a mother’s instinct."

Melanie Goodwin’s family had her body cremated.

"I couldn’t bury her body in that condition," her mother said. "I couldn’t bury her all disfigured and ugly."

Police say Reyes hitched a ride with Goodwin from a convenience store before raping and killing her.

In a jailhouse interview played Thursday in court, Reyes said, "I’ve never been a killer. I’ve never wanted to be a killer. I was just there in the wrong place with the wrong people."

If convicted, Reyes faces an automatic life sentence. Reyes fled to Mexico after Goodwin's death, where he was arrested. Prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty in exchange for his return to the United States.

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