Dad Acquitted of Shooting Drunken Driver Who Killed His Sons - FindLaw Blotter
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Dad Acquitted of Shooting Drunken Driver Who Killed His Sons

A father accused of murdering the drunken driver who killed his two sons was acquitted by a Texas jury.

In 2012, David Barajas and his two sons -- David Jr. 12 and Caleb 11 -- were pushing Barajas' truck on a road near their home in Alvin, Texas after the truck ran out of gas. A drunk driver, 20-year-old Jose Banda, plowed into the two boys, killing them. Prosecutors accused Barajas of running home, grabbing a pistol, and fatally shooting Banda in revenge, reports the Houston Chronicle.

The jury in Barajas' criminal trial, however, wasn't convinced. Why not?

Guilt Must Be Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

In any criminal trial, the prosecution my show the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt is generally considered doubt that would cause a reasonable person to hesitate before acting in a matter of importance or which prevents a person from saying with moral certainty that a person is guilty of the crime that person is accused of committing.

There were several aspects of prosecutors' case against Barajas that could have created doubt in jurors' minds. There were no witnesses to the alleged murder, and police were unable to find the weapon used to kill Banda. In addition, reports the Houston Chronicle, gunpowder tests performed on Barajas' hands came back negative -- which may have indicated if the father had fired a weapon recently.

Jury Nullification

In some instances, juries faced with convicting a defendant who they believe may have committed a crime but is being unjustly or unfairly prosecuted may choose to acquit the defendant regardless of the facts. This phenomenon is known as jury nullification.

In this case, jurors may have sympathized with Barajas, who had watched his two sons killed by a driver, Banda, who was driving with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system.

In either event, Barajas' constitutional rights to be free of double jeopardy mean that following his acquittal, he may not be charged for the same crime again, even if police uncover new evidence.

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