State rests in Daniel Willis’ murder trial

Former Bastrop sheriff's deputy Daniel Willis. (KXAN Photo)
Former Bastrop sheriff's deputy Daniel Willis. (KXAN Photo)

BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — After a week of presenting their case, the State rested on Monday in the murder trial against former Bastrop County Sheriff’s deputy Daniel Willis.

The special prosecutor, Forrest Sanderson, says the State wrapped Monday morning and the defense begins their case Tuesday. The defense has five expert witnesses they’re expected to call over the next several days. Sanderson says the trial could finish by the end of the week.

Over the course of the retrial, much of the same evidence was presented to Judge Albert McCaig Jr., who is seeing the evidence for a second time, but this time with the knowledge it will be his verdict to make. Dashcam video shown from Willis’ patrol car and the taped interviews with him explaining his perception and recollection of the shooting were played for the court.

The dashcam video shows Willis arriving at the home on Feb. 16, 2014 and talking with Willie Thomas, the father involved in a fight with his son, in the front yard. After talking with Thomas for a few minutes, Willis receives a communication from dispatch which sends him hurrying back to his patrol car to grab a rifle. The video shows him taking cover behind a vehicle before yelling “Police” and firing two shots 1-2 seconds later. The shots hit Yvette Smith as she stood in the doorway of the home, out of the dashcam’s view.

The judge can either rule from the bench after closing arguments or take it under advisemen and rule sometime in the future.

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