Defendant's cousin held stabbing victim during attack, testimony shows

  • Trial info:

  • Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. Monday

    Presiding judge: District Judge Skipper Koetter

    Defense attorney: Jerry Clark

    Prosecutor: Victoria County Assistant District Attorney Eli Garza

Muffled sobs sounded through the courtroom as witnesses described events surrounding the Aug. 4, 2010, death of William Lance Ponton.

Friday was the fourth day of testimony in the trial of Daulton Jakob Buffum, 21, of Kenedy. He is charged with murder in the stabbing death of 20-year-old Ponton.

Ethan Kole Ender, Buffum's cousin, said he was home in the 1500 block of West Beck Road when his brother announced plans to throw a party. Guests arrived about 10:30 p.m. and gathered on the front porch and yard of the three-bedroom mobile home.

A confrontation mounted between Buffum and Ponton, however, over a woman Ender said Ponton was flirting with.

Ender said Ponton asked the crowd in general who wanted to fight.

As the argument progressed, Ponton hit Buffum in the face with brass knuckles, Ender said. Buffum punched back and others broke up the fight. A minute or two later the fight resumed, he said, and partygoers broke it up once more.

Shortly after, Ponton threatened to kill those present with a 9-mm gun, Ender said, and Buffum once again went after him. Ender stepped in when he believed Ponton was about to hit Buffum again.

He said he took Ponton down by wrapping his arms around his chest and legs around his hip region, leaning back until they both fell to the ground.

When he heard Ponton's small groans and felt his body tense, he said he believed Buffum was punching the man. He released his grip about 30 seconds later and walked inside to clean up.

Ponton did not stand, he said, noting he believed Buffum had knocked him out. Upon reaching the house, however, he found blood on himself, the porch and Buffum's shirt, pants and hand.

Ender faces aggravated assault charges related to the incident. He was presented a plea deal for his testimony, which included 10 years of probation, Victoria County Assistant District Attorney Eli Garza said.

Others loaded Ponton into a truck to take him to the hospital, Ender said. When he saw him in the truck, Ender said the man's shallow breathing and bloodied abdomen made him look "kinda almost lifeless."

While Ponton went to the hospital, Buffum asked Ender for a ride to his mother's house just outside Kenedy. Throughout the drive, Buffum panicked.

"He said, 'Oh my God, oh my God, I don't know what I'm gonna do if he dies," Ender said. "'Oh my God, I can't believe I just stabbed somebody.' Stuff like that."

Ponton's mother, Michelle Martinez, also testified. Visibly shaken, the nurse described her last interaction with her son.

She said she was preparing for her night shift when Ponton, smiling, asked her for a ride to get a haircut. She promised to drive him the following day, before taking him to check out courses at Victoria College.

At 2:43 a.m., she encountered officers at the hospital who broke the news to her.

"I don't remember leaving the hospital, I don't remember the drive," she said, breaking into tears, "I don't remember my husband standing in front of the hospital."

Jeff Meyers, Victoria County Sheriff's Office lead investigator with the case, described details surrounding the investigation but, throughout testimony, it became apparent that not all pictures from the scene made it to the district attorney's office. An oversight, Meyers retrieved the photos, which depicted a white truck with brass knuckles in its bed, and submitted them to the court.

Defense Attorney Jerry Clark noted the oversight, as well as a diagram listing key measurements regarding where blood was located, that was not submitted until Friday morning.

"Errors were made on a case where my client's liberty and life as he knows it are on the line," he said.

The state rested its case just after 4 p.m. and the trial will resume at 9 a.m. Monday.