Suspect gives details of
October 15, 2000
HOUSTON (AP) - A 23-year-old suspected of
fatally shooting a high school teacher during a 1997 robbery
testified Friday that the gun went off as the teacher tried to
grab the weapon.
Bernardo Aban Tercero, who was nabbed by Border
Patrol agents last year near Weslaco, faces a capital murder
charge in the March 31, 1997, shooting death of Robert Keith
Berger stepped into a Houston dry cleaning shop
for a clothes order when he was shot. He took his toddler daughter
in with him while his wife remained in the car. Both witnessed the
Tercero testified that Berger was the aggressor,
walking slowly toward the robber, who held a pistol in his right
hand pointed at the ceiling, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"With my left hand out, I said, "Stop!' and I
took some steps back. That's when he took advantage of the
movement and grabbed the gun with both his hands," Tercero
testified under questioning by his defense attorney Gilbert
Tercero claimed Berger struggled about two
minutes with him.
"When our struggle started, he would push the
gun to my head and I would move my head back and push the gun
toward him. I believe it could have been me or him," Tercero told
But when the shot was fired, it was Berger who
fell face forward onto the floor with a bullet to the left back
side of his neck, said prosecutor Sally Ring.
Berger, 38, had taught junior and senior
English at Reagan High School for one year when he was killed.
Previously, he had taught at the High School for Performing and
Witnesses told police two men entered the shop
by a rear entrance and demanded money from the clerk. One of the
men walked over to Berger and said something, and the two began
struggling, witnesses said.
If convicted, Tercero could face
the death penalty. The jury is scheduled to return for closing
Bernardo Aban Tercero