EDNA – Amber Sorensen’s attorney attacked arguments laid out by prosecutors and their witnesses Friday morning with testimony from family members.
Court ended Friday with District Judge Bobby Bell telling jurors to expect closing arguments and deliberation Monday, but he added additional witnesses still could follow.
Earlier that day, Sorensen’s father, Robert Durham, took the stand to tell jurors that he had seen bruises on her arm during a family outing in which Sorensen was wearing a swimsuit.
When asked, she said the bruises were from exercise, he said.
“I ran it through my mind what kind of exercise it could it have been,” he said.
Sorensen, a 37-year-old Edna mother and personal trainer, is charged with murder, aggravated assault of a family member with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury and manslaughter.
She is accused of shooting and killing her boyfriend, 33-year-old Jarrett Parker, in the master bedroom of their Edna home Feb. 7, 2017. Sorensen told investigators that she had acted in self-defense after Parker assaulted her and threatened her life.
Kimberly Servantes, a friend of Sorensen’s, took the stand after Durham with similar testimony, saying she also had seen bruises.
On several occasions months before Parker’s death, Servantes saw bruises on Sorensen’s arms and legs, she testified.
When asked about the bruises, Servantes said Sorensen had also said they were from working out.
On the stand, she said she did not believe Sorensen’s explanation, adding Sorensen “always” wore long sleeves and often during warm weather.
That testimony came after prosecutors concluded their questioning of Texas Ranger Drew Pilkington and rested their case.
The defense had not rested by the end of court Friday, which marks the 10th day of trial and eighth day of testimony.
Thursday, the judge allowed Sorensen’s attorney, Stephen Cihal, to call another witness, Sorensen’s cousin, out of order in the interest of expediency.
Sorensen’s first cousin, Lee Hasdorf, told jurors that he, too, had seen bruises on Sorensen’s upper arm during two family occasions in 2016. She also told him the bruises were from exercising.
Neither man pressed Sorensen on that answer.
Earlier Friday morning, Cihal questioned Pilkington about forensic testing that he said demonstrated Parker was likely doing situps when he was shot.
Through other questions to Pilkington, Cihal pointed out that exercise equipment that could be used for situps was present in their home. Pilkington said he could not guess why Parker would have exercised on the floor.
And an Edna police report showed that Parker had gone to the gym about four hours earlier.
“I don’t know his routine,” Pilkington said.
Dressed in a pink shirt and pink bow, Miley the dog celebrated her first Blessing of the Pets with her new owners.
Madelynn and Alessandra Sanchez clung to their Shih tzu Miley as Bishop Brendan John Cahill smiled as he splashed holy water over them. Other Our Lady of Victory Catholic School students mirrored their actions with their own dogs, cats, hamsters and even a turtle.
“We ask you to bless these pets,” said Cahill before making his way about the courtyard.
Victoria Bishop Brendan John Cahill walls around the courtyard of Our Ldy of Victory catholic school for the annual blessing of the pets. pic.twitter.com/SMs3p2Qylo— Samantha Douty (@SamanthaDouty) October 4, 2019
The students participated in the annual Blessing of the Pets in the school’s courtyard Friday afternoon. Parents brought their family pets to the school to be blessed during the annual event. Some students held up photos of their pets that couldn’t be there.
Several students read about the importance of pets in the world as dozens of dogs barked and cats meowed. Young students sat on the grass and clung to their pets or the cages that held their furry friends.
The Blessing of the Pets is an annual celebration in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who preached love of animals.
“It’s to help our pets get blessed because they help us through everything,” said Madelynn, 11. “They deserve to have a blessing too.”
It’s special to have a school that allows them to bring their pets for a blessing, Madelynn said.
This year was special for the Sanchez sisters. It was the first year they had 7-year-old Miley.
They adopted Miley, who belonged to their aunt, five months ago when their aunt died from cervical cancer. The dog was like a child to their aunt Tanya Galindo, sixth-grader Madelynn said.
“(Miley) helps us through a lot,” said Madelynn as she wiped away tears.
Alessandra, 13, said it was important for them to bring Miley because she is like a little person and she deserved to be blessed.
“She brings us happiness,” the eighth-grader said.
The girls’ grandmother Maria De La Garza, of Victoria, said they inherited the dog and she brought peace to their home.
“She’s our blessing. Miley comes from a very loving home,” De La Garza said. “Her mother was very loving, and when she passed away from cancer, we didn’t think she would do very well at our home.”
Miley brings the family happiness and offers them a token of their aunt, De La Garza noted.
“She has adapted to us very well, and it has brought us so much joy,’ De La Garza said. “It’s just a remembrance of Tanya and who she was.”
A small business owner at Bootfest said she gains new customers by selling at Bootfest, but it isn’t enough to compete with large corporations like Amazon.
Lydia Bures, of Ganado, is the owner of Urban Western Wear. She said she usually sells 40 to 50 pairs of boots at the festival and gains a few new regular customers. But her business is still having trouble competing with Amazon.
“We can’t compete with the free shipping and the next-day shipping,” Bures said. “Amazon is now the household name.”
Bures is among the many local vendors selling their wares at the annual Bootfest in downtown Victoria this weekend.
Bures said she sells items on Amazon, but it’s hard for her to make a profit because of associated fees for sales and returns.
Unlike large companies, local businesses like Urban Western Wear support their communities by fundraising for churches and sports teams, Bures said.
“We’re always donating,” she said. “It’s hard because the locals don’t realize we are the ones who are supporting them.”
Small business owners have the opportunity to interact with their customers, said Britany Alexander, the owner of Deep Southern Roots in the Victoria Mall. This year is her first year as a vendor at Bootfest, but Alexander has attended the festival for years.
She said shopping locally is important because it gives back to the community.
“You’re paying for someone’s piano lessons or groceries,” she said.
Visitors to the annual festival agree.
Lawrence Sutton and his wife, Rosemary, did some shopping at the small business booths at the festival Friday night.
He said he doesn’t like shopping online because the return process is too much of a hassle. Plus, he said, it’s important to contribute to the local economy.
“You have to give back to what’s given to you,” Sutton said.
In addition to shopping, visitors listened to tribute bands and took advantage of festival food and drink vendors. Children also had the Kids’ Corral to play games and enjoy inflatable toys.
Bootfest continues from 8 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. Saturday. Wade Bowen, the headline band, will take the stage from 9:30 to 11 p.m., ending his show in time for the annual fireworks show set off from the roof of the One O’Connor Plaza building.
A Ganado Secondary School student was taken into custody Thursday after he threatened to blow up his school and injure the principal.
The student was charged with a misdemeanor for making terroristic threats. The student did not disrupt school, so he’s not being charged with a felony, said Ganado Police Chief David Merritt. Merritt said he’s not concerned about the student’s threat to blow up the school.
“Does he have the means? Probably not,” Merritt said. “I don’t believe there’s any more threat to any of the student body.”
Merritt said the police have dealt with the student in the past. He said the investigation into the incident is complete and the student should have been released from juvenile detention Friday morning.
The case is now in the hands of the Jackson County juvenile court, he said.