Davilas sentenced for 2007 murder
By LPR Staff
An emotional and harrowing week-long trial ended on Tuesday morning when a Caldwell County judge sentenced two Lockhart men to serve lengthy prison terms for the 2007 murder of John Edward “Eddie” DeLeon.
Father and son stood side by side as 421st District Judge Todd A. Blomerth accepted a “package” agreement bet
ween District Attorney Trey Hicks and defense attorneys for Jesse and Dwayne Davila. Under the agreement, D. Davila agreed to a sentence of 30 years in prison, while J. Davila accepted a sentence of 40 years.
As a condition of the agreement, the elder Davila plead guilty to murder, the same charge a jury found his son guilty of the day before. Both men waived their right to appeal the conviction and sentence.
The agreement came at the end of a five-day trial in which police, experts, family members and friends tried to offer the panel of eight women and three men an explanation for what happened the afternoon of June 9, 2007. The trial focused on the involvement of the younger Davila, who both sides agreed did not fire the fatal shot, but who drove his father to and from the scene of the shooting.
Rachel Davila and Jackie Trevino, the wives of the defendants, testified the men had left their home the afternoon of June 9 to go to the store for beer and drinks. While they were gone, the women said, they were involved in an altercation with DeLeon and others at a home located at 916 S. Brazos, only three blocks from the Davila home. The women said a bottle was thrown at the Davila’s car, possibly striking a 2-year-old child in the backseat. R. Davila called the police while her husband and son returned to the Brazos Street home, she said, to find the address.
Witnesses for the prosecution said that during the Davilas’ first pass of the Brazos Street location, D. Davila swerved the car in an attempt to hit DeLeon and his wife, Jamie Kenney, as they got their children from the backseat. When the Davilas returned, they said, J. Davila exited the car and brandished a shotgun, later identified as the murder weapon, a .410 with a sawed-off stock. They then drove up the street a few houses, turned around, and returned to the house, where J. Davila fired a shot into DeLeon’s chest, fatally wounding him.
Less than 20 seconds after the end of R. Davila’s call to 9-1-1, a second call came in, this time from 916 S. Brazos, reporting that DeLeon had been shot.
Representatives of the Lockhart Police Department, including Chief Mike Lummus, testified the shooting could not have happened at a worse time for the department, which was stretched thin because of staffing shortfalls and the Chisholm Trail Roundup taking place that weekend at Lockhart City Park. However, after interviewing witnesses at the scene and identifying the suspects, police had both Davila men in custody before DeLeon’s body was removed from the scene.
Defense attorney Rip Collins argued the department’s staffing woes and the chaos at the scene may have created “tainted witnesses,” those who had the opportunity to discuss events and refine their stories before police arrived. However, later that evening in their statements to the police, both men admitted to having been present at the scene.
The elder Davila, upon arrest, told investigators, “I shot him, not my son. I was tired of them [expletive] with us.” The younger Davila said he did not know his father had a gun, but witnesses at the scene recalled him saying, “Shoot him, Dad! Shoot him.”
DPS forensic experts testified that DeLeon was shot from a distance of about eight feet,and the autopsy report showed he had no “intoxicating agents,” including alcohol or any drugs other than those used by EMS to treat his wound, in his system at the time of his death.
Though he was brought to court to testify in his son’s defense, J. Davila did not take the stand during the trial. D. Davila also did not testify in his own defense.
Hicks, immediately before closing the State’s case against Davila, called on Lockhart Police Department officer Steve Kenney to testify. Kenney had been present during an altercation between D. Davila and J. Kenney early in the day on June 9. At that time, according to the video surveillance recording from his patrol car, the officer cautioned Davila with chilling foresight to “calm down and put this behind you, because I can see this escalating, fast.”
Less than five hours later, Kenney and other officers with the LPD were dispatched to the scene of the shooting.
After hearing four days of testimony last week, the jury deliberated for nearly five hours before returning late Monday afternoon with a unanimous verdict, declaring D. Davila guilty of DeLeon’s murder.
Tuesday, Collins and his co-counsel, Roy Minton approached Hicks and First Assistant District Attorney Josh Erwin to discuss an agreed sentence, rather than asking the jury to sentence Davila. Hicks agreed to discuss a “deal,” but only on the condition of J. Davila’s guilty plea in connection with the shooting. After nearly three hours of negotiations, it was agreed that D. Davila would serve 30 years for “murder with a deadly weapon finding,” while his father would serve 40 for the same charge. Both men must serve at least half their sentence before being eligible for parole.
DeLeon’s parents and brother, who were present each day of the trial, and his widow, who could not watch the proceedings because she was called as a witness, expressed their satisfaction with the agreement for the Court’s record.
“I want to commend the hard work and expertise of the Lockhart Police Department and other emergency services personnel who quickly responded to the crime scene that evening,” Hicks said in a written statement on Tuesday. “Because of the quick response of the Lockhart Police Department, both suspects were placed into custody within minutes of the shooting. I also want to acknowledge Investigator Chris Knudsen for his handling of Dwayne Davila during his interview.
“I also want to again express my sympathy to the DeLeon family and thank them for their strength and patience during such a difficult ordeal,” he said. “With the approval of the sentences… the need for a future emotional jury trial… was ended. Hopefully this result will help, in some small way, as they continue to cope with this senseless tragedy.”
Though neither members of the Davila nor DeLeon families immediately returned requests for comment, sources close to the families say they might be willing to make public statements at a later time.