Trial in gay Dallas man's murder again delayed, this time by publication of book about case

Richard Hernandez
Richard Hernandez

Earlier this month I reported that Karen Dilbeck, the girlfriend of Seth Winder’s father, had written a book about Seth, who’s accused of the brutal slaying and dismemberment of gay Dallas resident Richard Hernandez in 2008. I also reported that Winder’s first-degree murder trial, long delayed due to competency issues, was finally scheduled to go forward in early May.

Well now it appears as though publication of Dilbeck’s book, “Slipping Into Madness: The Seth Winder Story,” has further delayed Winder’s trial, which has been pushed back until August to give the prosecution and defense a chance to review the manuscript.

“Mr. Winder, the defendant, his dad’s girlfriend wrote a book on the case. We did not know that until last week, and so we’ve ordered the book, and both the defense and the state will be reading the book,” said Jamie Beck, first assistant criminal district attorney for Denton County, which includes the area of Far North Dallas where the murder occurred. “I think there were a couple of other variables [contributing to the delay], but that was the big one, because she’d interviewed the defendant and his dad, so everybody needed that information. It could be inculpatory, it could be exculpatory, it could be both.”

Winder’s attorney, Derek Adame, confirmed that he agreed to the delay, but said he doubts there’s anything relevant in the book.

“I can tell you that these people who are responsible for this book don’t know anything about the actual case itself and have really no idea of what the plan is in defending Seth,” Adame said. “For both sides, it’s only fair that we delay it to get a chance to look at this in case there is something there.”

Adame says he doesn’t plan to argue that Winder, who reportedly suffers from schizophrenia, is not guilty by reason of insanity. A judge initially found Winder incompetent to stand trial, but he’s since been restored to competency. Adame said he plans to argue that Winder “didn’t do it,” adding that he thinks it will be difficult for the state to prove that a murder even occurred, given that Hernandez’s remains were never found.

Dilbeck, meanwhile, believes Winder is guilty and hopes he remains in custody for the rest of his life. Otherwise, Dilbeck said, he’ll stop taking his medication and harm someone else. Dilbeck said she didn’t interview Winder for the book, but reprinted excerpts from his letters from jail. Dilbeck also told me she regrets that the book has delayed Winder’s trial, which certainly wasn’t her intent.

Dilbeck and Winder’s father, Rodney, have said they repeatedly tried to get help for Seth, but law enforcement and the criminal justice system failed to do anything.

“I always knew he’d kill somebody. It was just a question of when, in my mind,” Dilbeck said.

“It’s really a plea for the case of the reform of our laws regarding the mentally ill,” she said of the book. “If people don’t ever go out and try to make changes, nothing will happen.”

Hernandez’s gay friend, Rudy Araiza, called the delay “ridiculous” and “frustrating.”

“Every time I hear he’s going to trial I get excited because now we can finally get some justice, but then it gets delayed and delayed and delayed,” Araiza said. “In some ways I would love to face him and tell him how I feel, and how he’s impacted people’s lives. That to me would probably bring me peace. The way things are going, who knows when or if I’ll ever get that chance.”

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