David Barajas, the father who allegedly shot and killed 20-year-old Jose Banda in 2012 was found not guilty of murder Wednesday afternoon in Angleton, Texas.
Barajas’ sons, 12-year-old David Jr. and 11-year-old Caleb were helping their father push a truck that had run out of gas when the drunken Banda crashed into them in front of their home, killing both boys. According to this Inquisitr report, police said that 32-year-old Barajas went into his home, got a gun, and then came back outside and shot Banda. Police responded to 911 calls reporting the accident and gunfire, but the boys’ father was not charged until two months after the incident.
The weapon that Barajas allegedly used to murder the driver was never found, and the grieving father claimed at the time that he could not remember what happened, saying the evening was a “blur.”
MSN reports that Barajas wept openly and hugged his wife, Cindy, when the jury’s verdict was read today. The father told reporters after the trial that he wanted to move on with his life and find closure. “This was a loss for everybody. Not only did I lose my sons, they (the Banda family) lost a son too.” Barajas added, “I am relieved but still in pain. My boys are dead and nothing will bring them back.”
Banda’s family sat in stunned disbelief when the verdict was read, according to ABC 11, a local television station.
The prosecution contended that although Banda had made some bad choices, he still deserved to be alive to be a father to his daughter. “Death is not a penalty for intoxication,” the prosecuting attorney said in the closing statement. “He didn’t deserve to face death by this man.”
Legal experts predicted before the trial that the prosecutors would have difficulty overcoming jury sympathy. The case was also complicated by the fact that there was only circumstantial evidence that Barajas shot Banda – there were no eyewitnesses, the gun was never found, and gunshot residue tests on the boys’ father were negative.
A bullet fragment found in the driver car was identified as possibly coming from a.357-caliber gun, which matched ammunition and a holster found in Barajas’ home, and blood found on the driver’s door and other parts of Banda’s car was consistent with Barajas’. However, a search of Barajas’ home did not turn up any hard evidence that linked him to the crime in any way.
The defense argued that his client never owned a gun, and the possibility that the bullet came from another type of weapon could not be ruled out. The defendant’s attorney also used a timeline of 911 calls to show that the father did not have time to shoot the driver.
Barajas could have been facing up to life in prison if he had been convicted of the 2012 murder.
Image courtesy of ABC 13 News Houston