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Jury Acquits Man in Reckless Shooting Case – The Monitor

Posted: Friday, May 6, 2016

EDINBURG — A man accused of recklessly shooting off a shotgun and severely injuring a friend was acquitted last week after the jury returned with a not guilty verdict, according to court records.

A jury found Alexander Velasquez not guilty of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, according to court records.

Velasquez was facing up to 20 years in prison in connection with the shooting.

Velasquez’s trial stemmed from a December 2014 incident in which he and a longtime friend, Esteban Reyna, were testing out a black pistol grip Maverick brand shotgun at his home when the gun went off and struck Reyna in the right lower leg, according to court records.

According to Velasquez’s attorney, Carlos A. Garcia, Velasquez was a novice gun owner, having recently purchased the shotgun less than four months before the incident.

Velasquez told investigators the gun went off accidently as he and Reyna were preparing to head outside to his backyard to test the gun’s accuracy with a new laser he had just mounted on the weapon, according to court records.

“As they were walking down the hallway, the barrel of the gun began to go downward. The gun went off and struck his friend’s right leg. (Velasquez) told investigators the gun was loaded with buckshot, but never said when he loaded it,” according to court records.

Velasquez called police and emergency personnel and remained at the scene. Investigators noted that when they arrived at the scene, Velasquez was crying and pacing back and forth in his living room, according to records.

After speaking with Reyna, who decided to press charges, officers arrested Velasquez for deadly conduct and later the charge was upgraded due to the recklessness in which Velasquez handled the weapon, according to court records.

Reyna told investigators he felt Velasquez’s actions were reckless and that’s why he chose to press charges, according to records.

“I told Alex several times not to point the shotgun at me but he continued to point it at me. I told Alex that I was going outside and started to walk away when I heard a loud bang. I turned around but suddenly collapsed,” according to court records. “I felt a lot of pain, and I asked Alex why he had shot me.”

In the months after the shooting, Reyna would endure six surgeries to try to repair the damage done to his right leg but ultimately surgeons were forced to amputate his leg below the knee, Garcia said.

Reyna testified during the jury trial that he was still upset with Velasquez nearly two years later, but the jury based its decision on the physical evidence introduced during the trial, which contradicted Reyna’s testimony, Garcia said.

Garcia said he was happy with the outcome of the trial, but it was a difficult case based on the relationship of the two men, who had been best friends since their middle school days.

“Not every accident is a crime, some are, but not in this case. Some issues are civil matters that need to be handled civilly,” Garcia said. “My client had no criminal history, never been in trouble with the law. It’s an absolute tragedy that his happened. My client and his family grieved for the tragedy that the Reyna family has gone through.”

The attorney said Velasquez, 23, a University of Texas Rio Grande Valley student majoring in education, was relieved the trial ended in his favor and hopes to move on with his life.

“I’m very pleased with the jury’s verdict — they won’t be disappointed in the choices and actions that Alex will make for the remainder of his life,” Garcia said.

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