Summary: A father will stand trial next week for the murder of the man who drove drunk and killed his two sons.
Angleton, Texas resident David Barajas has suffered every parent’s worst nightmare—twice. The Associated Press reports that Barajas’ two sons were hit and killed by Jose Banda, who was driving under the influence, in 2012. The Barajas’ family truck had broken down, and the family was pushing the vehicle down a dark road. They were merely 50 yards from home when Banda struck Barajas’ sons David Jr. and Caleb as the boys assisted with pushing the truck. David Jr., 12, died at the scene. Caleb, 11, died later at an area hospital. Later, Banda, 20, was found dead in his vehicle with a bullet lodged in his skull. Neighbors allege they heard gunshots shortly after the crash. Authorities believe that Barajas went home, grabbed a gun, and shot Banda. Brazoria County sheriff’s investigator Dominick Sanders adds that Barajas would not have known that Banda was driving under the influence immediately after the crash.
The trial, set for Monday, will certainly be an uphill battle for prosecutors. There’s no murder weapon, no witnesses that identified Barajas as the shooter, and many in the community sympathize with Barajas. Although ammunition was found in Barajas’ home that matched the type used to kill Banda, the missing weapon makes a “big difference in the case,” according to Investigator Sanders. Witnesses identified Barajas as the person who approached Banda’s vehicle before the shooting. Others state they saw gunfire, but could not identify Barajas as the shooter. Barajas’ attorney, Sam Cammack, revealed that his client did not even own a gun at the time of the shooting. Plus, gunshot residue tests on Barajas were negative.
Some members of the community have said they may be compelled to take the law into their own hands if faced with a situation as devastating as Barajas’. In 2012, a grand jury in Texas declined to indict a father facing charges for killing a man who had molested his child. Joel Androphy, a criminal defense attorney in Houston, stated “It’s not the right way to do it, but jurors a lot of times make judgments based on moral responsibility, not legal responsibility.” A Facebook page has even been created that’s titled “Free David Barajas,” complete with information about fundraising events for the grief-stricken father.
Banda’s common-law wife, Felicia Leija, 22, states that what Barajas allegedly did “wasn’t right.” She claims that anyone who states what they would have done in the same situation has no idea what actions they may truly have taken.
Legal experts have stated that the case will be difficult to prosecute without hard evidence. Grant Scheiner, a criminal defense attorney in Houston, observed “the prosecutor is starting from behind the eight ball.”
Cammack did not have any suggestions as to who murdered Mr. Banda. He sympathizes that Banda was killed, but maintains that his client was not involved: “Mr. Banda lost his life out there at that scene that night, somehow…that is not a good thing. But to suggest that Mr. Barajas has anything to do with it is a far stretch of the imagination.”
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