A Texas dad has been accused of killing a drunk driver in an act of rage after his two sons were fatally struck by the driver’s vehicle in 2012 on a rural in Southeast Texas.
The trial of David Barajas is scheduled to begin today. Barajas’s defense attorney says Barajas is a good man, a grieving father but not a murderer. At the same time, his defense hasn’t publicly pointed fingers at who else might be responsible for the shooting death of Jose Banda.
The trial comes with many complexities: no weapon was recovered, no witnesses identified him as the shooter and many in Barajas’ community have sympathized with him, with some saying they might have killed the driver if they were faced with the same situation.
Legal experts acknowledge prosecutors could face a greater challenge than simply proving who committed the crime, similar to that of another Texas case from 2012 in which a grand jury declined to indict a father who killed a man after he molested his child.
“It’s not the right way to do it, but jurors a lot of times make judgments based on moral responsibility, not legal responsibility,” said Joel Androphy, a Houston defense attorney who isn’t connected to the case.
The trial will focus on the prosecutors’ allegations that Barajas shot Banda in the head in December 2012 near Alvin, Texas. Just minutes before, Bandas’ car hit Barajas’ sons as they pushed the family’s broken-down truck down a dark narrow road just 50 years from their home. Twelve-year-old David Jr. died at the scene and 11-year-old Caleb later died at a hospital.
Barajas’ attorney, Sam Cammack, says his client didn’t take the law into his own hands, noting that Barajas’ didn’t even own a gun. Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne declined to comment.
Witnesses have identified Barajas as the person who went up to the vehicle before the shooting. Other witnesses said there was a man opening fire but none could identify Barajas as that person. Investigators never found the weapon, and gunshot residue tests performed on Barajas came back negative.
A search of Barajas’ home found ammunition consistent with the bullet that ultimately killed Banda, however Sanders said the missing weapon could still make “a big difference in the case.”
Texas Dad Accused of Killing Drunk Driver Maintains His Innocence As Trial Begins