A jury returned a not guilty verdict Wednesday in the trial of a father accused of fatally shooting a drunken driver who killed his two young sons in a crash.
Jurors deliberated about three hours before reaching their verdict.
David Barajas was accused of fatally shooting Jose Banda in December 2012 near Alvin, minutes after Banda hit a truck Barajas and his two sons were pushing after it ran out of gas. Twelve-year-old David Jr. and 11-year-old Caleb were killed.
Prosecutors had tried to prove Barajas left the scene of the crash after he and his children were hit by the driver and then went home and got a gun. A teenager who came upon the crash testified that Barajas disappeared from the scene, returned a few minutes later, and was seen sticking his head into Banda's car. The teen said he then heard a gunshot, but did not see the actual shooting.
A weapon was never found and Barajas has always proclaimed his innocence. Barajas talked to reporters after the verdict was handed down.
"I pray for my family, for the Banda family, that God gives them the comfort and strength to move forward. They lost a son, too. This was a loss for everybody. This was not a winning situation for any of us," Barajas said.
Both sides rested their cases Tuesday in a state district court in Angleton, with the defense calling just three witnesses. Barajas' attorney, Sam Cammack, told jurors during closing arguments that the prosecution had failed to prove their case, saying there was no direct or circumstantial evidence that linked Barajas to the shooting.
During testimony, Cammack told jurors that the blood of another, unknown person was also found in Banda's car.
"Obviously, at least how the evidence developed, they made up their minds at the scene that night and they never considered any other potential leads, even after the DNA came in," said Cammack.
After the verdict, Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne stood by the investigation and the decision to prosecute, saying she still believed Barajas committed the crime.
"I would never proceed on a case on someone I believed to be factually innocent. The jury made its decision...beyond a reasonable doubt was not met and we will always respect that decision," said Yenne.
Barajas said he's going to go on with his life. He and his wife have two other children and they are still grieving the loss of their two sons.