NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – The trial of a New Braunfels Canyon High School student accused of killing a classmate has been put on hold.
Prosecutors are asking that the jury not be allowed to consider a misdemeanor assault charge against the teen defendant in addition to the murder charge and the lesser charge of manslaughter he already faces. The defendant's attorney said the assault charge gives jurors more options.
"Now (the jury) would have the option to determine did he commit murder, and if (they) don't believe that drop down and consider manslaughter, and if you don't believe that they can drop down and consider an assault," said defense attorney Joseph Garcia.
Including the misdemeanor assault charge in their deliberations would change the amount of prison time the defendant could face if he's found guilty.
He faces up to 40 years in prison for murder compared to only a year in jail and a $4,000 fine for misdemeanor assault.
"Now we have this dispute with the prosecutors and the state, who feel like essentially it should be all or nothing. You either have murder (or) manslaughter and nothing else to consider," Garcia said.
The 16-year-old defendant, who is not being identified since he is a minor, allegedly punched classmate Logan Davidson, 15, twice in the face as they left a chemistry class on the morning of Nov. 12, 2013. Davidson's head struck a wall and he never regained consciousness. The teen testified Monday that Davidson had been picking on him in class and throwing erasers at the him. He told the jury he warned Davidson that he would retaliate if the behavior continued.
"We requested an instruction for assault because we believe there was clear testimony from my client that the only reason he hit Logan Davidson was to stop him from doing the things that Logan had been doing to him, including assaulting him over the course of two prior days," Garcia said.
The request now moves to a higher court -- most likely the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio -- and could end up all the way at the Texas Supreme Court.
That process could take several days, meaning both sides and the jury could be waiting a while before they are given their instructions.
"Giving them as many options under the evidence is what I'm trying to do here and we believe that an assault charge is certainly justified by the amount of evidence and type of evidence that was testified to," Garcia said.