The second day of testimony continued Wednesday at the murder trial of the father of a teenager who investigators say shot and killed three other teenagers at a Garland convenience store in 2021.
Neither side disputes whether Abel Acosta pulled the trigger. The 15-year-old is now on the run from the law after the December 26, 2021 shooting.
A Dallas County jury will soon decide whether Abel’s father, who was with him that night, is guilty.
The second day of testimony included the results of fingerprint analysis, mobile phone records, and detailed detective work in the hours and days following the triple murder. The families of the three murdered teenagers continued to appear in court, where they were presented with graphic evidence, including autopsy photographs.
“Now we are his voice and we are here to get justice,” said Brenda Salinas, aunt of victim Xavier Gonzalez.
Prosecutors are trying to convince jurors that fingerprints, phone tower records and forensic evidence confirm that Richard Acosta Jr. was in his white pickup truck, leaving him behind the wheel, waiting for his son to run away behind the wheel.
Acosta Jr.’s defense admitted that father and son stopped at the store on the night of the murder.
The father says he was only there to buy painkillers for his pregnant wife, but his son spotted two teenagers who may have information about his stolen necklace.
Acosta Jr.’s lawyer, Heath Harris, told jurors that he tried to keep his son from getting out of the truck to confront the teens, but was unable to keep him.
Video footage shows Acosta Jr.’s truck stopping several times before returning to the store.
A shirtless Abel Acosta, then aged 14, is accused of getting off the truck, sneaking up to the store’s front door and opening fire on the people inside.
Police say he fired 20 shots, killing 14-year-old Xavier Gonzalez, 16-year-old Ivan Noyola and 17-year-old Rafael Garcia.
A 15-year-old chef at a taco shop was also shot, but survived.
By all accounts, the youngest victim, Xavier, was an innocent bystander waiting for his food order. The teenager was shot 10 times.
A graphic surveillance video inside the store shows Xavier falling to the floor using a chair for cover before the shooter runs in close and fires at close range.
Salinas says that during the trial, the victim’s family is full of sadness and anger. According to her, the first day of the trial was the most difficult day for them.
“The hardest thing was seeing him get attacked by Abel, especially right in front of him, just standing on top of him and shooting,” Salinas said.
The father of Ivan Noyola’s victim, Mario, says Acosta Jr. is responsible for this tragedy because he was the adult in the situation and brought his 14-year-old son to harm others.
“I’m sad. I’m furious and angry that if I could, I would kill my father myself,” he said in Spanish.
Acosta Jr. said he only knew his son wanted to go into the store to confront Ivan or Rafael about his stolen necklace, but insisted he didn’t see the gun and only left because he heard gunshots.
Regarding the 15-year-old murder suspect, Acosta stated that he was driving home the night of the shooting and that he last saw his son when Abel was walking up the stairs.
If Acosta Jr. is found guilty of capital murder, the 35-year-old will be automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole.
He is expected to testify in his defense.