David Barajas, a southeast Texas man accused of executing a drunk who ran over and killed his pre-teen boys back in 2012, was acquitted this week for murder charges. The not guilty verdict comes as a shock to many, not because potential jury sympathy swayed the vote towards the grieving father, but because the state’s prosecutors failed to even prove that Barajas killed 20-year-old Jose Banda.
Writes CBS News: “David Barajas, 32, cried when the verdict was read Wednesday and he hugged his wife, Cindy, who was also crying. He faced up to life in prison, if he had been convicted. Prosecutors 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 road near their home because it had run out of gas.”
Killed in the crash were 12-year-old David Jr. and his brother, 11-year-old Caleb. Banda’s blood alcohol level was found to be twice the legal limit.
Prosecutors alleged that after Banda ran down Barajas’ boys, the father walked to his home – located approximately 100 yards from the scene of the crash – returning with a gun which he then used to shoot Banda dead. But the prosecution lacked the physical evidence needed to achieve a guilty verdict – no gun was ever located, no witnesses stepped forward and no gunshot residue was found on Barajas’ clothing.
Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne said the jurors failed in their task, and that despite what the defense team purported, the actual killer was not still at large.
“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 said Wednesday after the verdict was read, adding that there are no winners in this case.
“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.
Despite the acquittal, a crying Barajas agreed. “This was a loss for everybody.”
The prosecution’s case was largely based on a possible link between the ammunition used to kill Banda and bullets found in Barajas' home, as well as to blood found in Banda’s car that belonged to Barajas.
Writes The Associated Press, via Huffington Post:
[Defense attorney Sam] 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.
The defense attorney also used 911 calls to create a timeline that suggested Barajas would not have had enough time to shoot Banda.
Barajas said he is praying for the Banda family as well.
“They lost a son, too,” Barajas said.