Jul 16, 2013 3:10 PM by Rachel Cole - firstname.lastname@example.org
CORPUS CHRISTI - Many friends, county officials and courthouse staff are mourning the loss of District Judge Thomas Greenwell. A member of a cleaning crew found the judge's body with a gun nearby after the close of business on Monday.
The Nueces County Sheriff's Office says an autopsy will be performed today. Judge Greenwell is said to have left a handwritten last will and testament before apparently taking his own life.
As Abel Alonzo explains, those close to him say his honesty and humble personality will be deeply missed.
"People in the general election voted for the person he was, he used to tell me, "Once I get elected Abel, I'm no longer a Republican, I'm a public servant," Alonzo said.
Alonzo is an avid democrat, he says Judge Greenwell was the first republican elected as a district judge in 2001. That's when they met and became close friends even though at first they didn't see eye to eye.
"The judge and I were like water and oil, like day and night, he was a republican, I was a democrat, he was a district judge, I used to be a former gang member but yet he accepted me as the person I was," Alonzo said.
Alonzo says Judge Greenwell had a way about him that made people, from all walks of life feel respected. Whether they were courthouse employees or defendants in his court.
He treated people the same whether he was on the bench in the 319th District Court or beside them sitting on the city bus, which he rode from time to time.
"He told me once about talking to a person that he sent to prison on the bus and that he had no animosity against him," Alonzo said.
The news about his death came as a surprise to Alonzo because they just spoke last Friday and had plans to meet this week.
"I was looking forward to seeing him on the 18th, he never expressed that there was anything wrong. If I would have known that he was going through some difficulties, I would have stopped what I was doing and tried to help him out, he was truly my friend," Alonzo added.
A man with a kind smile and big heart is how so many around the county courthouse will remember Judge Greenwell. While many more are heartbroken and left wondering why he didn't come to them for help.
"He didn't reach out, he should have reached out," Alonzo said.
Judge Greenwell was originally from Pennsylvania. He moved to Corpus Christi about 20 years ago and leaves behind one brother.