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