Accused killer: 'I did not shoot him'

Murder defendant claims gun fired after victim grabbed barrel

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SAN ANTONIO – George Pena repeatedly insisted on the witnesses stand Friday that he was not guilty of murder.

"I did not shoot him," Pena testified. "I held the gun, and he pulled the gun that caused the gun to fire."

Pena described to jurors a fight he had with Juan Ramiro Martinez, 43, in a shed he called his "Man Cave" in the backyard of his mother's home in the 1600 block of South Allende on April 12, 2018.

The defendant said he was missing several items and accused Martinez of stealing from him.

Trial Coverage: ME's office: Murder victim shot 7 times, stabbed 13

During the fight, Pena said that Martinez came at him with a knife and that's when he grabbed a .22-caliber rifle.  

Pena testified that as he aimed the rifle at Martinez, the victim grabbed the barrel.

"As soon as he grabbed the barrel with his left hand, he pulled on the rifle," Pena testified. "I had my hand on the trigger and as he pulled the rifle; the rifle went off."

A forensic pathologist testified Thursday that Martinez had seven gunshot wounds, including one in the back. He also suffered 13 stab wounds and his throat was slashed.

Trial Coverage: Murder victim's body found in 55-gallon barrel; suspect's trial begins

Pena admitted that he slit Martinez's throat as they wrestled for the knife.

The defendant said after Martinez was shot to death, he stuffed his body in a barrel.

"I took off my belt and wrapped it around his legs, and I had a pully hoist attached, and I hoisted it up, and I put him in a barrel," he said.

Related: Suspect admits to killing 43-year-old man, stuffing him in 55-gallon drum, affidavit says

According to testimony earlier in the trial, Pena tried to get his girlfriend to help him move the body the following day.

She refused and called police instead.

About the Authors:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.