Attorneys disagree during day two of murder testimony; time-out called
Nov. 2, 2011 at 6:02 a.m.
Attorneys in the murder trial of Daulton Jakob Buffum waged a battle of words during the second day of testimony, in which the defendant's mother testified.
Buffum, 21, is charged with murder in the stabbing death of 20-year-old William Lance Ponton at a house party in the 1500 block of West Beck in August 2010.
As Victoria County assistant district attorney Eli Garza and defense attorney Jerry Clark both argued their points, things took a heated turn once Victoria County Sheriff's Office investigator Anthony Daniel took the stand.
During cross examination, Clark asked Daniel, "Am I asking you tricky questions?" and "He's not even trying to answer," and "Am I asking questions too fast?" Objections stemming from claims of witness badgering, leading questions and harassment ensued.
"I want the truth," Clark told District Judge Skipper Koetter in defense of his line of questioning.
Seemingly irritated by Clark's response, Garza retorted, "I could say you can't handle he truth."
In an effort to maintain order in the court, Koetter, called a time-out, dismissing the jury for an unscheduled 10-minute break to reprimand both attorneys.
While on the stand, Daniel denied leading witnesses; proclaimed that Buffum's facial injuries were the result of a fistfight, not brass knuckles; and told jurors that Buffum's case was not one of self-defense.
"My mind was made up before the interview," an obviously agitated Daniel said about Buffum's role in the stabbing. "We had enough evidence to make a probable cause arrest for murder."
Jurors were shown a video of law enforcement questioning Buffum a few hours after the stabbing occurred.
During the taped interview, Buffum told Daniel that he and his cousins Ethan and Kyle Ender decided to host a party at their Beck Road trailer home and invite friends from work.
Amidst a stockpile of Crown Royal whiskey, Jack Daniels whiskey and Coca-Cola, party-goer Jacob Reynolds enlisted Buffum's help, Buffum said in the video.
Reynolds wanted Buffum to ask Ponton to stop flirting with his girlfriend.
On the video footage, Buffum said he peacefully confronted Ponton about the flirting, but things went awry when Ponton falsely accused Buffum of trying to start a fight between them.
"He was talking a whole bunch of mess on my porch," Buffum told Daniel in the interview.
Buffum said Ponton soon threw the first punch, striking him three times in the face with brass knuckles.
The defendant supposedly blacked out after the third punch.
"When I came to, everyone was panicking, saying they were rushing that guy to the hospital," said Buffum. "That's what scares me. I don't remember s__t."
Buffum cried and screamed throughout the interview, "Oh, God!" "What!" "Oh, s__t!"
Buffum showed no outward displays of emotion while watching the video.
As the footage continued to play, Buffum, who admitted that he had past anger problems and had taken about five or six shots of Crown Royal the night of the party, told the investigator that he asked Ethan Ender to take him home to his mother in Choate after the stabbing.
Clark argued that his client attempted to work with investigators from the beginning, having agreed to provide his saliva for DNA testing and offering up his cell phone for investigative purposes, which is usually obtained via a search warrant.
From the stand, Karen Buffum, Daulton's mother, testified that after convincing her son to return to Victoria and meet with Sheriff's deputies, the two prayed for Ponton.
"A stabbing could be serious. It could not be serious," said Karen Buffum, who said her son told her that Ponton had bragged about being a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. "We said a prayer for the person because we believe in prayer."
A text message from one of the party-goers to Daulton informing him that Sheriff's investigators were looking for him, led mother and son to Citizens Medical Center.
Daulton was placed under arrest less than 20 minutes later.
"The tall cowboy comes out to me and says 'Ma'am, I'm arresting your son for murder,'" said Karen Buffum.
Connie O'Brien, Ethan and Kyle Ender's mother and Daulton Buffum's aunt, testified about a conversation she said she had with Daniel at the hospital that contradicted Daulton Buffum's arrest.
"(Daniel) said it appears to be a self-defense case," said O'Brien. "That's one of the reasons I told my boys to tell the truth."