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State rests in murder trial; jury to begin deliberating

By BY JESSICA PRIEST - JPRIEST@VICAD.COM
Sept. 21, 2012 at 4:21 a.m.
Updated Sept. 22, 2012 at 4:22 a.m.

Defendant Marcellus Brown, left, defense attorney Micah Hatley, Judge Stephen Williams and District Attorney Stephen Tyler listen to witness Matthew Balboa on Friday as he uses a laser pointer to show where he was on a projected Google Earth map on the night of the shooting death of Daniel Davila. Balboa claims he was with Davila when he was shot.

An East High School student recalled for jurors Friday how a night of partying last summer went from bad to worse.

Matthew Balboa, 17, said he and two others walked across Pine Street Park on July 30, 2011, to pick up where a fight left off hours earlier at 806 Ash St.

He said they were all surprised when the group they met brought more than just their fists.

Balboa was a witness in the final day of testimony in the trial against 21-year-old Marcellus Brown.

Brown is one of six charged with having a hand in the shooting death of Balboa's friend, Daniel Davila, a 24-year-old father of two.

The state rested its case Friday.

Defense Attorney Micah Hatley did not call any witnesses and requested Brown be acquitted, which was denied.

District Attorney Stephen Tyler abandoned three of the charges - one count of engaging in organized criminal activity and two counts of deadly conduct with the discharge of a firearm - listed in a Aug. 5, 2011, indictment.

Brown is now charged with murder and engaging in organized criminal activity.

Closing arguments are expected to begin 9 a.m. Monday before Judge Stephen Williams.

Balboa testified that Davila wasn't involved in the earlier dispute apparently about beer at the Ash Street location, but came with him as he investigated a suspicious car idling a few blocks away.

"I heard someone yell, 'The Mexicans are coming! The Mexicans are coming!'" Balboa said, describing how shots rang out soon after. "Daniel said, 'Run!' when he fell, so we ran back to my cousin's house (where the party was.)"

He said they spent some 20 minutes afterward roaming the streets looking for Davila, but never found him.

Davila was discovered behind a shed about 10 hours later in the 900 block of Goldman Street.

"I want the person who killed Daniel to get locked up," Balboa said. "He was my friend."

But he didn't recognize Brown, as he appeared in the courtroom, as one of three shooters he saw that night.

He previously helped investigators track down his football friends, co-defendants Jefferson Hill, 19, and Joshua McClure, 20, who he said were two of the shooters using Facebook statuses posted after the fact.

Victoria County Jail inmate Pedro Lucio also testified.

Lucio, 25, who is charged with attempted murder stemming from a July 2005 unrelated incident, said he heard Brown yell out to McClure during lockup that he had wiped fingerprints off shell casings.

Tyler has not offered Lucio a deal in his case in exchange for testifying. His trial is expected to start in December.

The state maintains Brown shot Davila with a 9-mm semiautomatic handgun.

That and other weapons police think were used, including a shotgun and a .22-caliber revolver, were never found.

Hatley throughout the day questioned how detectives gathered their evidence and suggested they centered on Brown, the first to be arrested, based on "inconsistent" statements made by suspects.

Victoria Police Department Detective Travis Stillwell interviewed Hill, who implicated Brown.

He said Hill divulged more, little by little during the three-hour session by establishing a rapport, which included appealing to his dream of going to college.

Hatley said he was leading Hill on.

"I suppose they do have colleges in prison," Hatley said.

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