Father David Barajas cleared of murdering drunk-driver Jose Banda who killed his sons

Prosecutors could only produce circumstantial evidence to support their case

A man charged with murdering a drunk-driver who killed his two young sons has been acquitted by a court in the US state of Texas.

Jose Banda, 20, had driven his vehicle into 12-year-old David Jr. and 11-year-old Caleb as they pushed their father’s broken-down car as he steered on a dark country road. Banda had twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system at the time.

32-year-old David Barajas was accused of shooting Banda in a fit of rage during the incident in December 2012, after Banda was found dead in his car with single bullet to his head.

While prosecutors at Brazoria County Courthouse argued that Barajas had walked to his home 100 yards away to pick up a .357-calibre pistol, before returning to kill Bandas, they could only produce circumstantial evidence to support their case, AP reported.

Investigators concluded that a bullet fragment found in Banda’s car may have come from a .357-calbire gun like Barajas', but the father’s lawyer argued the ammunition could have simply been from a different firearm.

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

But Barajas’ defence attorney, Sam Cammack, said the father was not guilty as he was focusing on attempting to save his sons. A video shot using a camera attached to a police car dashboard showed Barajas performing CPR on Caleb, as his wife cried out for help.

Cammack also cited emergency call to suggest that Barajas would not have had enough time to shoot Banda.

When police officers searched Barajas’ home, they discovered an empty holster and .357-calibre ammunition, but they did not find the weapon that killed Banda, and Barajas did not have any gunpowder on his hands.

Supporting the argument that the real killer was at large, prosecution witnesses said they heard more gunfire long after Banda was shot.

Hannah Rangeo wears a shirt showing her cousins, twelve-year-old Caleb, left, and eleven-year-old David Barajas Jr. (AP) Hannah Rangeo wears a shirt showing her cousins, twelve-year-old Caleb, left, and eleven-year-old David Barajas Jr. (AP)
Outside the courtroom, a relieved Barajas told reporters: “A lot of weight’s been lifted off my back.”

He added that he was still bitter about the death of his sons, but added he prayed that Banda’s killer was found.

“[Banda's family] lost a son, too. This was a loss for everybody,” he said. “This wasn't a winning situation for none of us.” Banda’s family made no statement.

Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne told reporters she did not regret brining the case to trial, despite a lack of evidence.

“We believe that Mr. Barajas committed this crime.

"The state would never present a case against an individual who we did not believe committed a crime. So good people can agree to disagree," she said.

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