Jurors returned about an hour later with a not guilty verdict.
Adrian Campos was charged with aggravated assault, threatening someone with a deadly weapon, after Beeville Police Department detectives arrested him in a traffic stop days after an Aug. 13, 2012 incident in the 1500 block of East Rosewood Street.
Detective Sgt. Art Gamez and Sgt. Ryan Treviño both testified that Campos was identified as the assailant who had passed the home of 31-year-old Jesus Martinez that evening.
According to witnesses, Martinez and Campos exchanged words, and a white Toyota in which Campos was a passenger stopped.
Five witnesses testified that Campos got out of the passenger seat holding what they thought was either a rifle or a shotgun and that he started walking toward Martinez.
Testimony conflicted regarding how Campos was holding the weapon and concerning what type of weapon he had.
Defense attorney Sid Arismendez tried to convince the jury that the object the witnesses thought was a gun actually was a small baseball bat.
One witness even said he was certain that the object Campos carried was a sawed-off shotgun, and he said he heard the defendant fire one shot. The witness even said he saw the weapon recoil.
None of the other witnesses claimed to have heard a shot, and officers at the scene said they looked for a possible shell casing and found none.
Assistant District Attorney James Sales told jurors it did not matter whether or not Campos actually had a gun, as long as the victim and the witnesses thought it was a gun and thought Campos was brandishing the weapon in a threatening manner.
In his closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, Arismendez stressed the fact that almost every witness told a conflicting story.
But Sales countered by pointing out that each of the witnesses had said they thought the object Campos was carrying was a gun.
One witness, Juan DeLaTorre, told jurors that he was standing with Martinez working on a car when the vehicle Campos was in passed the victim’s house.
DeLaTorre, 33, said Martinez started shouting at Campos before Campos shouted back at him.
“He was egging him on, I guess,” the witness said.
DeLaTorre described the object Campos was carrying as being brown and black, looking like a rifle.
“I seen wood and dark metal,” DeLaTorre said.
He said he warned Martinez “watch out; he has a gun”, and he bolted for the door of Martinez’s house to escape a possible shooting.
DeLaTorre and Martinez had conflicting testimony concerning who got to the door of the house first.
When Arismendez showed DeLaTorre a photo of a baseball bat that had been taken from a vehicle Campos was in days after the incident and asked the witnesses if he thought it could have been the bat he saw, the witness said, “Yeah, I guess.”
When Sales rested his case, Arismendez asked the judge to find his defendant not guilty because the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Johnson denied the motion.
The trial was hampered by the loss of photos and other evidence that the BPD apparently had lost since the arrest.
The charge against Campos is a second degree felony. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison and fined $10,000.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.