Weatherford Democrat

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November 9, 2012

Homicide victim’s family sues landlord

PARKER COUNTY — The family of Linda Surginer Preston, who died in her home on Oct. 12 after her neck was brutally stabbed and slashed, filed a lawsuit Thursday against her landlords, accusing them of irresponsibly sending the capital murder suspect - a known violent parolee - to Preston’s home resulting in her death.

Attorney Paul Previte, who worked with Preston in the past, is representing Preston’s husband, Patrick Preston, and her two children, Brian and Kristi Loggins, in the lawsuit.

They are suing Juan and Anita Trejo - Preston’s landlords and the parents of 28-year-old Hector Trejo, who is accused of killing Preston after she refused to let him use her car that day.  

“Despite their knowledge and awareness of Hector Trejo’s propensity to violent criminal behavior, defendants sent him alone and without supervision of any kind to work on the premises where Linda Preston was alone and particularly vulnerable due to extremely poor health, a condition of which defendants were also aware,” the petition states.

The Trejos also made no effort to protect or warn Linda Preston, Previte said.

Voicemail messages left for the Trejos were not returned by deadline Thursday afternoon.  

Hector Trejo had been at the Prestons’ home working unsupervised on a construction project for several days when the attack occurred, according to Previte.

Patrick Preston found his wife’s body in living room late in the afternoon of Oct. 12 after several family members became concerned when they couldn’t reach her that day.

“They are angry that more information was not given to them about how dangerous Hector was,” Previte said of the family.

Hector Trejo was convicted in May 2010 of a September 2008 robbery where he and two other men pistol-whipped a man during a home invasion and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Trejo was released on parole on Sept. 4 on special conditions that included he have the maximum level of supervision and undergo drug and alcohol testing, according to Jason Clark, spokesman with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Trejo also has a number of other convictions going back to 2003 that include assault causing bodily injury to a family member, burglary, theft and drug offenses.   

Knowing all that about their son, they sent him over there anyway without thought for Preston’s safety, Previte said.

“Had Juan gone over there and supervised the work, we might not be talking,” Previte said.

Previte said they also believe that Hector Trejo gained Preston’s trust to a certain extent and, had she known his background, she might have had her guard up.  

Though under ordinary circumstances they would never blame a parent for their child’s actions, Previte said it is like any other employer/employee relationship.

If an employer puts a known drunk driver behind the wheel and the person has a wreck, the employer can be held responsible, according to Previte.

“Had anyone shown the slightest concern for her well-being, she’d be alive today,” Previte said.

“It’s too late for Linda,” Previte said, adding that he hopes other employers or property owners become more aware so it doesn’t happen again.

“It’s personal to me, as well,” Previte said of Linda Preston’s death.

He described her as someone who would give the shirt off her back and was no threat to Trejo at all.

“She was a very kind lady in very bad health,” Previte said. “It’s completely senseless and wrong what happened to her, which goes without saying.”

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