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Monday, January 11, 2016

Who Killed the Barajas Children and Murdered Jose Banda?

     On the night of December 7, 2012, the pickup truck carrying the Barajas family--David and Cindy and their four children--ran out of gas on a dark, narrow country road near Alvin, Texas thirty miles southeast of Houston. Because they were 100 yards or so from their home, Mr. Barajas asked his boys, David who was 12, and 11-year-old Caleb, to push the truck the rest of the way. At eleven o'clock, when they were within 50 yards of their house, another vehicle plowed into the back of the pickup. The crash killed David instantly, and seriously injured his brother who died later that night in the hospital. Mr. Barajas suffered minor injuries. His wife Cindy and their two daughters were not hurt in the accident.

     Deputies with the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office, when they looked inside the vehicle that slammed into the Barajas pickup, found 20-year-old Jose Banda. Having been shot once in the head, Banda was breathing but unresponsive. (I don't know if he had been shot from the passenger's or driver's side of the car.) The officers found him slumped over in the front passenger's seat. He died in the hospital a few hours later. Deputies searched both vehicles and the area surround the accident without finding a gun. There were indications that Mr. Banda had been drinking, a fact that has not yet been confirmed through an analysis of his blood.

     While the county coroner ruled Jose Banda's death a homicide, the person who shot him is a mystery. If David Barajas or his wife had shot Banda for killing their two boys, where was the gun? Could someone besides Banda have been behind the wheel of vehicle that crashed into the pickup? Could that person have shot Banda and fled the scene with the murder weapon before being spotted by members of the Barajas family? This would explain why the deputies did not find the murder weapon.

     In speaking to a reporter, Brazoria sheriff's deputy Dominick Sanders said, "We are not sure if Banda was shot before or after the wreck." (If shot before the wreck, the murder might have caused the accident. If this is what happened, was the shooter inside the car or along the road?)

     Deputy Sander did not say if David Barajas and his wife had been subjected to gunshot residue tests to determine if they had recently discharged a firearm. Moreover, the sheriff's office did not indicate if Banda had been shot at close range, or if a shell-casing has been recovered from the scene. (If the area around Banda's entrance bullet wound featured gunpowder staining, he had been shot from a distance no farther than eighteen inches. The more powder staining, the closer the range.)

     A week after the fatal accident and criminal homicide, the deceased boys' parents, in hiding following Facebook threats, had not been questioned by the police. (This was not good investigative technique.) According to the boys' uncle, Gabriel Barajas, his brother remembered the accident in a "blur."

    Tests revealed that Jose Banda had twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood at the time of his death. Forensic gunshot residue tests showed that Mr. Barajas had not fired a gun that night.

     On February 10, 2013, notwithstanding a lack of evidence in the case, a Brazoria County grand jury indicted David Barajas, Jr. for murder of Jose Banda. If found guilty, Barajas faced up to life in prison. Upon his arrest Mr. Barajas maintained his innocence.

     On August 27, 2014, after a one-week trial, the jury found David Barajas not guilty. Without a murder weapon, an eyewitness or a confession, the prosecutor simply did not prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, the community supported and had sympathy for the defendant from the start.
     

3 comments:

  1. Today August 27,2014 David Barajas was found not guilty of murder. Mr. Banda had been drinking g that night his bac was twice the legal limit. The police never recovered a gun and Mr. Barajas had no gun shot residue on him.

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  2. It seems like they should be looking for a 2nd crime scene I think Jose was not the driver I think he was already shot before the crash happen

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  3. I also agree that they should be looking for a 2nd crime scene. Is it possible that there were three men including Banda in the car and they had just left the scene of an incident where Mr. Banda was shot in the passenger seat? This would make sense, knowing the vehicle Mr. Banda was a passenger in, had their headlights off and was fleeing from the original crime scene when the vehicle struck the Barajas family vehicle.

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