Boyfriend who threw woman off ‘second-story balcony,’ dropped recliner on body is found guilty


Raymond Antonio Rivera

Raymond Antonio Rivera (Killeen County Jail mug shot)

Texas jurors convicted a man this week of murdering his then girlfriend by throwing the victim off the balcony of her apartment in Killeen before hurling an orange recliner as heavy as 50 pounds onto the victim’s body below, leading to a broken neck and numerous other severe injuries that proved fatal in the days that followed.

The June 25, 2020, domestic violence attack and murder that Bell County jurors convicted 39-year-old Raymond Antonio Rivera of committing on Wednesday threatens to put the perpetrator behind bars for a century in the death of 50-year-old Nilsa Maria Arce, a mother of one. The domestic violence murder happened in broad daylight at the Henderson Garden Apartments.

Although the case began with questions about whether Rivera was competent to face a murder trial, once those concerns abated, the case moved forward, albeit slowly.

The Killeen Daily Herald’s revealing account of witness testimony detailed that the fatal attack unfolded on a Thursday afternoon in plain view of onlookers.

Around lunchtime, witnesses reportedly said, Rivera and Arce were heard arguing before the victim yelled “Aaah!” A thud was audible once Arce fell two stories. But witness Roxanne Rodriguez, who previously lived at the Henderson Garden Apartments, reportedly concluded that what actually killed Arce was the orange recliner Rivera threw from the balcony onto the victim’s face.

The witness reportedly testified that she saw Arce was “breathing very heavily” before Rivera threw the recliner — then all went silent.

“I recall an orange chair landed on her face and then I didn’t hear any more sounds,” Rodriguez reportedly told the jury. Still, the witness reportedly said, Rivera continued throwing objects off the balcony, adding up to what “looked like a pile of trash on top” of the victim.

Jurors also reportedly heard from a U.S. Army veteran and friend of Rodriguez’s who testified to removing a “sturdy” recliner from Arce’s body that day.

“I immediately moved the orange chair and other items off her so I could give first aid,” the witness, identified as Aden Puente Santiago, reportedly said. “As I approached Miss Nilsa, I asked if she was OK and didn’t get a response. I yelled at people to call 911.”

At the start of the case, it was reported that Rivera tried fleeing the murder scene before the Killeen Police Department got there.

It turns out that didn’t work out because the eyewitnesses stepped in and prevented an escape.

“Mr. Raymond jumped off the balcony and ran and I started running after him,” the Army veteran reportedly said in court. “One of my employees picked me up in my car and we continued following him for about two blocks. When he got to an open field, I jumped out. We held him down until KPD arrived.”

Arce’s murder was included in the Texas Council on Family Violence’s report on cases of women and men who were victims of “intimate partner violence” in 2020. The report said that Arce died at a hospital two days after the attack.

“Nilsa is survived by her adult daughter,” the report said.

The court docket reviewed by Law&Crime shows that Rivera is scheduled for sentencing before Judge John Gauntt on the afternoon of May 30. The court noted that two hours were blocked off for the hearing.

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