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Thread: Dad acquitted in slaying of driver who killed sons

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    Default Dad acquitted in slaying of driver who killed sons

    Dad acquitted in slaying of driver who killed sons

    ANGLETON, Texas (AP) A southeast Texas man says that despite his acquittal Wednesday for the shooting death of the drunken driver who caused a crash that killed his two sons, there are no winners.

    "This was a loss for everybody," said a visibly relieved David Barajas, who cried and hugged his wife, Cindy, after the verdict was read.

    Prosecutors had alleged that Barajas killed 20-year-old Jose Banda in a fit of rage after Banda plowed into Barajas and his sons while they were pushing a truck on a rural Southeast Texas road near their home because it had run out of gas. Twelve-year-old David Jr. and 11-year-old Caleb were killed.

    Authorities said that after the accident, Barajas, 32, went to his home about 100 yards from the crash site near Alvin, got a gun and returned to shoot Banda.

    Defense attorney Sam Cammack said Barajas didn't kill Banda and that he was only focused on saving his sons. The gun used to kill Banda wasn't found and there was little physical evidence linking Barajas to the killing.

    The jury deliberated for about three hours Wednesday before acquitting Barajas of murder.

    After the verdict, Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne insisted that investigators had correctly zeroed in on Barajas and that the actual killer wasn't still at large, as Cammack had suggested at trial.

    "What the state's perspective is and will always be is that if you or I or anyone we know had a horrible collision and killed another human being, that you get the fair review of the criminal justice system, not a roadside execution," Yenne told reporters.

    Banda could have been sentenced to up to life in prison, if he had been convicted.

    Legal experts said prosecutors also likely had to overcome jury sympathy for Barajas, who had the support of many residents of Alvin, which is about 30 miles southeast of Houston. Further complicating their case was that there were no witnesses who identified Barajas as the shooter, and gunshot residue tests done on Barajas came back negative.

    While both sides differed on who might have been responsible for Banda's death, they agreed that this was a tragedy for everyone involved.

    "Three sons were lost that day. The state has compassion for every single one of them, the Barajas children and the Banda son," Yenne said.

    Barajas said he is hoping to move forward and get closure with regard to his sons' deaths. But he also said that he is praying for Banda's family.

    "They lost a son, too," Barajas said.

    Banda's family did not speak with reporters after the verdict. Felicia Leija, Banda's common-law wife, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

    During the trial, investigators testified that a bullet fragment found in Banda's car could have come from a .357-caliber gun, and that ammunition for such a gun was found in Barajas' home.

    A forensic scientist testified blood found on the driver's side door and driver's arm rest of Banda's car was consistent with that of Barajas.

    Cammack spent most of his closing argument earlier Wednesday trying to knock down the prosecution's evidence. He said tests showed the bullet fragment found in Banda's car could have also come from another weapon besides a .357-caliber gun. He said the blood found on Banda's car that came from Barajas was spilled when Barajas was attacked by Banda's cousin and half brother, who witnessed the crash but later told investigators they fled the scene.

    Cammack also suggested that Banda's cousin or half brother could have been responsible for the shooting. Banda's cousin and half brother testified they did not shoot Banda. Cammack also told jurors that a search of Barajas' home failed to find any evidence that directly linked him to the crime scene.

    The defense attorney also used 911 calls to create a timeline that suggested Barajas would not have had enough time to shoot Banda.

    Only three defense witnesses were called during the trial, which lasted a little over a week.

    Dad acquitted in slaying of driver who killed sons
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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    Good. I'm glad he's free.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    right, so an invisible murderer showed up at the same time as the car crash and just killed this dude and ran away? uhuh.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Ferguson cop on holiday, maybe?
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    ^^^^
    but only if banda was black and unarmed.
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    Elite Member Sarzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    right, so an invisible murderer showed up at the same time as the car crash and just killed this dude and ran away? uhuh.
    Yeah... seems likely eh? I was wondering if I was missing something while reading that article.

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    ^^^^
    but only if banda was black and unarmed.
    I believe that they will settle for someone olive-skinned if an actual black person can't be found.

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    Elite Member Mel1973's Avatar
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    Well, no fucking jury would have convicted him of this crime in Texas even IF a gun had been found.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    did he even call 911 before going home and getting his gun?
    there's a lot of info missing here. was he injured? was his wife?
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    did he even call 911 before going home and getting his gun?
    there's a lot of info missing here. was he injured? was his wife?
    During the 911 calls (from someone else who was there) that they have played, it came out that one of his sons was literally cut in half instantly when the car hit them. The other was dead shortly after.

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    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    I don't think the Ferguson joke or linking to this to police shootings of unarmed black men is appropriate at all. This is a completely different situation. While we can all hope to be above instant "justice" in a situation like this, none of really know.
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    Elite Member JadeStar70's Avatar
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    Did the Dad call 911 for help for his boys before walking home? Or he just knew the boys were already dead, and then went home to get his gun to kill the guy? Wow....wild story. So basically everyone thinks the Dad did do it,...but they just didn't have proof to convict him of it?

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadeStar70 View Post
    Did the Dad call 911 for help for his boys before walking home? Or he just knew the boys were already dead, and then went home to get his gun to kill the guy? Wow....wild story. So basically everyone thinks the Dad did do it,...but they just didn't have proof to convict him of it?
    It's a pretty crazy story:

    1. The car broke down at night, so visibility was low.
    2. The breakdown, and accident, occurred only 100 yards from Barajas' house ((the guy whose sons were killed). Which was why they probably felt they should just push it to the house rather than have it towed.
    3. The driver, Banda, was shot in the head and the prosecutors believed that the gun used was a .357. Barajas claimed not only that he didn't shoot Banda, but also that he didn't own a gun.
    4. Barajas had a .357 holster and .357 ammunition in his house. But a gun was not found.
    5. Barajas had no gunpowder residue on his hands.
    6. No witnesses ID'd Barajas shooting Banda. However, witnesses said he was near the car when a shot was heard.
    7. When the ambulance arrived, Barajas was trying to revive Caleb with CPR (David Jr. had already died on the spot after being sheared in half). Barajas' lawyer spent time showing how that based on the 911 call, when the ambulance showed up, and where Barajas was was when the ambulance showed up, that he couldn't have done it in that timeline.

    Interestingly, it appeared that Banda's had some relatives who were there at either the time of the crash or shortly after, and had even engaged in a fight with David Barajas, but they were not able to testify to him doing the shooting either.

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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    Not that I'm doubting the dad did it, but the part that surprises me is that he left the scene with his dead and/or dying children, walked 100 yards to retrieve a gun from his home, came back and killed the drunk driver. I don't know that I would have been thinking clearly enough to do that.

    Of course, I'm not advocating taking the law into your own hands, but I can totally see where the dad was coming from. I think I would have choked the driver with my bare hands.
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    He could have had the gun in his truck. Makes more sense to me.
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