Prosecutor says Texas drunk driver did not deserve ‘execution’

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ANGLETON, Tex. — A drunken driver did not de­serve “ex­e­cu­tion” by a Texas father ac­cused of tak­ing the law into his own hands in a fit of rage over the kill­ing of his two sons in a wreck, a pros­e­cu­tor told ju­rors Tues­day.

David Bara­jas is ac­cused of fa­tally shoot­ing Jose Banda in Decem­ber 2012, min­utes af­ter Mr. Banda plowed into a pickup truck that Mr. Bara­jas and his two sons had been push­ing on a ru­ral road. Twelve-year-old David Jr. died at the scene, and 11-year-old Caleb died at a hos­pi­tal. Mr. Bara­jas’ truck had run out of gas about 100 yards from the fam­ily’s home.

Mr. Bara­jas’ at­tor­ney told ju­rors that his cli­ent did not kill Mr. Banda, and that he was fo­cused only on sav­ing his sons.

In open­ing state­ments Tues­day in Mr. Bara­jas’ mur­der trial, pros­e­cu­tor Brian Hrach told ju­rors Mr. Banda made a hor­ri­ble de­ci­sion by drink­ing and driv­ing, “He de­served se­vere le­gal pun­ish­ment, but he did not de­serve a pub­lic ex­e­cu­tion,” Mr. Hrach said.

Mr. Bara­jas al­leg­edly left the ac­ci­dent scene, re­trieved a gun from his home and re­turned to kill Mr. Banda.

Sam Cam­mack, Mr. Bara­jas’ at­tor­ney, told ju­rors that his cli­ent never left the crash site. Mr. Cam­mack por­trayed Mr. Bara­jas as a father who was des­per­ate to help his sons and was cov­ered with their blood af­ter he tried to per­form CPR on the boys. “When po­lice get there, my cli­ent is do­ing what he was do­ing the whole time, try­ing to save his chil­dren’s lives,” the at­tor­ney said.

Dash­cam video of the crash scene played for ju­rors Tues­day af­ter tes­ti­mony had be­gun brought many in the court­room to tears. Mr. Bara­jas kept his head down as the video was played. On the video, Mr. Bara­jas can be seen kneel­ing on the ground near a road­side ditch where the body of his son David Jr. had landed. A woman can be heard scream­ing, “My ba­bies. Why? Oh, my God, please help them.” David Bara­jas’ wife, Cindy, and their in­fant son and 8-year-old daugh­ter had also been in the truck. They were not se­ri­ously hurt.

Legal ex­perts said the case will be dif­fi­cult to pros­e­cute given the lack of hard ev­i­dence: No weapon was re­cov­ered, no wit­nesses iden­ti­fied Mr. Bara­jas as the shooter, and gun­shot res­i­due tests done on Mr. Bara­jas were neg­a­tive. The trial is in the county seat of An­gle­ton, Tex.

On one call, scream­ing can be heard in the back­ground, as an un­iden­ti­fied caller told a dis­patcher that a boy is “bleed­ing badly, ... he’s in half. It’s bad.” On an­other call, an un­iden­ti­fied caller said, “There is a guy shoot­ing at peo­ple.” The per­son who was shoot­ing was not iden­ti­fied.

Mr. Cam­mack high­lighted for ju­rors the time­line, while ques­tion­ing dis­patcher Grace Gambino. The first 911 call came in at 11:33 p.m., a child was re­ported dead at 11:34 p.m., gun­shots were heard at 11:35 p.m., and po­lice had ar­rived at the scene and cleared it for EMS to come in at 11:40 p.m.

If con­victed, Mr. Bara­jas faces as much as life in prison. Tes­ti­mony was to re­sume to­day. At least 25 fam­ily mem­bers and friends of Mr. Bara­jas were in the court­room, wear­ing but­tons that said, “For­ever in our hearts, David and Caleb Bara­jas” with a pic­ture of the two boys. At least 20 rel­a­tives and friends of Mr. Banda were also in the court­room.

United States - North America - Texas


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