When Daniel Greco was first questioned three years ago for the murder of Anjanette Harris and her unborn child, Greco told investigators that he accidentally killed Harris during bondage sex when he bound her and pulled a rubber strap around her neck. His defense attorneys, hoping to get a conviction less severe than capital murder, incorporated this defense in their closing arguments to jurors on Wednesday.
That argument ultimately failed, and the jury convicted Greco for capital murder. On Friday, as the trial entered the punishment phase, prosecutors hit hard on Greco’s sexuality as they steered their case toward their goal: seeing Greco get the death penalty rather than a life sentence without a chance for parole.
Prosecutors welcomed two women who once had sex with Greco to the witness stand. They both said they believed or were told by friends “it could have been me” who Greco murdered if it were not Harris.
Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Sheugit, as she questioned one of the women, presented jurors with letters between Greco and six women while he’s been locked up in the Denton County jail. In the letters, Greco wrote sexually explicit notes to each of them.
“I like bad girls, like to talk dirty and be funny, so hit me up,” he wrote one, saying to another, “Thank you for the pics, they really got my juices flowing.”
All of this will matter in the context of whether Greco gets to live for the rest of his life among the general populations inside the Texas prison system or live isolated on death row until he is executed.
After failing to see Greco acquitted of capital murder, his defense attorneys are now locked in a struggle to prove that Greco was and remains a good person despite making a bad decision to kill Harris.
Responding to the rounds of letters the state showed the jury, defense attorney Derek Adame showed the jury through his cross examination of one of the women that inmates, regardless of their convictions, write sexually in letters to former sex partners, something Adame argued is routine and in no way an indication that Greco has no remorse for what he did to Harris.
Adame and fellow defense attorney Caroline Simone cross examined witnesses with questions related to how encouraging and supportive Greco is of them. Adame called in one man who lived in the cell next to Greco in the county jail. He, too, talked about how supportive Greco was of him.
The waning days of this trial became personal, at times painfully so, on Friday for Greco. The state not only plunged into Greco’s sexuality but called his mother, Mary Greco, to the witness stand. Prosecutors asked her questions about her son’s decades-long struggle with drug addiction and about his childhood.
In his letters to his mother, Greco, who on previous convictions spent time in state prison, acknowledges how much better the Texas Department of Criminal Justice food is than at the Denton County jail, and how much easier it is to sneak contraband into prison than the county jail.
In one letter, Greco wrote his mother that he was remorseful but that he didn’t want to spend life in prison.
“I feel like I deserve 20 years,” he wrote, the length of the maximum sentence one can receive after a manslaughter conviction.
The punishment phase of the trial will continue at 8:30 a.m. Monday in Denton County 431st District Court.
Police arrested a 39-year-old Denton man Friday afternoon and charged him with murder in connection with the death of a woman who has not yet been identified.
Another woman called 911 just after noon Friday to say she had information about a potential homicide in the 3100 block of Kappwood Court, according to a city news release.
En route, officers received a second call from a man who stated that he had killed his fiancée. Officers arrived at the scene at 12:17 p.m. and located the man, identified as Anton Thorp.
Thorp surrendered without incident. Officers also located the woman, who appeared to have been shot. Her name has not been released. No other details were made available.
State court records show Thorp was arrested on a Class A misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury family violence charge in 2008. The charge was filed by the Collin County District Attorney’s Office in connection with a family violence incident in March 2006. Thorp pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received deferred adjudication.
Justin attracts generations of residents who enjoy living in a city full of small-town charm. “It’s the perfect place to raise kids and have a family,” says Justin City Manager Cori Reaume. “And even those who move away tend to come back and retire here.”
Justin is located 27 miles north of Fort Worth and 17 miles southwest of Denton. Its location — at the intersection of FM 407 and FM 156, west of Interstate 35W — puts it near booming new developments, the Texas Motor Speedway, Alliance Airport and other local industries.
Yet even with all of these amenities nearby, the city of 5,000 still has open areas with pastureland, cattle grazing and green spaces as far as the eye can see.
That’s not to say there is no growth or development. Multiple improvements are planned across the city. Construction on the town’s main thoroughfare will eventually widen FM 156 to a four-lane divided roadway that will be realigned to make space for a downtown parking lot with just over 200 spaces.
City leaders hope these changes, plus new landscaping and other improvements, will beautify the area and make it more convenient for patrons of the city’s restaurants and businesses.
Balancing the city’s progress with its long-held traditions is important for Justin’s leaders.
“Having a hometown feel stays in the back of our mind for every decision we make for the city,” Reaume says.
Justin is in the Northwest Independent School District, one of the state’s largest school systems. The district, which spans 234 square miles and serves 14 communities, is also one of the fastest-growing districts in Texas, adding about 1,200 new students each year, said Emily Conklin, executive director of communications for Northwest ISD.
“The connection we have with the cities is important,” Conklin says. “We depend on these communities. We want that relationship.”
Northwest ISD Communications Specialist Anthony Tosie says the focus on parental and neighborly involvement is encouraged by special events throughout the year. “Our schools all have a community focus. Teachers know their students, and they can be seen at after-school activities to support the students.”
School events in Justin attract a wide range of ages and families who want to be involved, even if they don’t have kids who attend that particular campus.
The district puts a high value on fine arts and has been on the Best Community for Music Education list for 11 consecutive years. An annual middle school performance brings students from all campuses together to create a Broadway-scale musical.
Northwest ISD also excels at academics and has had multiple National Merit Scholars. “We really, truly value personalized learning experiences,” says Conklin, who adds that lessons are designed to challenge and motivate each student.
The school district’s growth and bright future make Justin a very attractive place to live for families.
The city’s biggest retailer is Justin Discount Boots, whose name leads some to think that the city was named after the western-wear company or vice versa. It wasn’t, but the relationship between the city and the store is beneficial, and the retailer is a big draw for the city. “Because of that affiliation, people are used to coming in from other cities to buy their boots,” says Reaume.
Many of the city’s other businesses have been open since the early 1900s, including Justin Pharmacy, Justin State Bank and Adams Furniture.
When it comes to local dining, Justin offers everything from comfort food to international cuisine. Mom’s Cafe, which Reaume refers to as “the epitome of a small-town diner,” serves breakfast, brunch and other down-home options. Other local spots to try include Lonesome Spur, Outlaw Burger & BBQ and Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant, which all often draw a crowd.
Many of the city’s restaurants are family-owned, including Joe’s Italian Restaurant. “One of our secret gems is Joe’s,” says Reaume. “The food he does in there goes far beyond what you’d expect,” and it is the “best Italian food in the area by far.”
Another popular place to visit is Mule Barn Sports Bar & Grill, which offers a full dinner menu plus live music from country, folk and other artists.
Whether Justin’s businesses are new or established, chain or gourmet, one thing bonds them together: “All of Justin’s business owners are so community-focused, and they want to give back to the community,” Reaume says.
Justin offers a wide range of services to meet residents’ needs and has a sports complex and city library that hosts events and classes on sewing, cupcake decorating, rock painting and more.
The city recently acquired 18 acres for future municipal use near Bishop Park. The site will include a new fire station and a street named for Layne Wilkerson, a longtime resident and volunteer who passed away earlier this year. Wilkerson helped with one of the city’s beloved events: the fire station’s annual fish fry in October, which serves 1,500 people.
Another popular Justin gathering that shouldn’t be missed is the Old Fashioned Christmas event, which includes a tree lighting, holiday parade and photos with Santa. The city wants to continue offering events and amenities that are valuable to residents.
“Our intent was to make sure the city had the things that people wanted without having to leave to go to a bigger city,” Reaume says.