Murder trial begins for Espinales
By Eric Weslander
There's no dispute that a 25-year-old man shot and killed a member of his extended family earlier this year after a night of drinking at a birthday party in Baldwin City, his attorney said.
"This is no rocket science. ... What happened, happened," Albert Freeman, a defense attorney for Hinndley Espinales, told jurors Monday in District Court.
But the question for jurors to resolve in Espinales' trial this week is whether the shooting of Alvin Sanchez was premeditated or the spontaneous result of a heated quarrel.
Espinales is charged with premeditated first-degree murder for the March 4 shooting at 109 Hillside Drive in Baldwin. It happened at the home of Espinales' father, who was having a party for his 50th birthday.
During opening statements, Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said Sanchez had reacted with jealousy when he saw the way his wife, Jamelia Sanchez, and Espinales were dancing at a bar a week before the shooting. Jamelia Sanchez and Espinales are stepbrother and stepsister and had lived together growing up as teenagers.
The night of the shooting, Branson said, Espinales was upset when Alvin Sanchez refused his offer to help carry some of Sanchez's children into the party.
Later -- after a night of drinking and a trip to the Salt Mine bar in Baldwin -- Alvin Sanchez intervened when he heard his wife and Espinales talking in a hallway of the home, Branson said.
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On the witness stand Monday, Jamelia Sanchez described that confrontation for jurors. She said that her husband came up and asked what Espinales was saying to her, and then Espinales began cursing and telling him to shut up. The two men then got into a physical fight in the hallway, she said.
Espinales' father, Rufino, intervened and lectured his son for fighting.
Moments later, she said, Espinales went outside, returned with a handgun and began firing at Sanchez.
"There was a lot of screaming," she testified. "Hinndley said, 'What did I do?'"
Espinales fled and was arrested the next day in Oklahoma after being spotted on Interstate 35 by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
His trial is scheduled to resume today.