As the family who lost a daughter stages services in her memory, the attorney representing the brother accused of killing her is seeking more details, saying there are indications the girl’s death was an accident.
Zachary Barrera, 17, is charged with first-degree murder after allegedly shooting his sister, 16-year-old Gabrielle Barrera, who was found dead at their home in the 600 block of Sumner Circle Saturday night.
Zachary’s attorney, Chevo Pastrano, said he’s baffled why the New Braunfels Police Department charged his client with murder. On Thursday he filed several requests with Comal County justice officials seeking an arrest affidavit or similar documents backing up that charge.
“Homicide doesn’t always mean murder under Texas law,” Pastrano said. “We are investigating just like law enforcement is doing — and from our perspective, there are many indicators that suggest this was an accident.
“You cannot have a first-degree murder charge and an accident — it’s either one or the other. There are other potential charges they’ve completely jumped over.”
David Ferguson, NBPD communications coordinator, said investigators did not file an arrest affidavit in the case.
“There is not an arrest affidavit because a warrant was not issued prior to (Barrera’s) arrest,” Ferguson said Thursday. “Investigating officers, in the hours following the incident, had the probable cause they needed to make that arrest without a warrant.”
Zachary Barrera was taken to Comal County Jail and charged with murder early Sunday. Records indicate he went before magistrate William Burrell at 9:15 a.m., who set bail at $250,000. Barrera remained jailed Thursday afternoon.
Pastrano said manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide were other charges, outlined in the Texas Penal Code, police might have considered.
“They have charged him with the intentional killing of another person,” he said. “They have not ruled out the possibility of being an accident.
“If there’s the potential it could be an accident, it also begs the question of where the evidence is that demonstrates probable cause for first-degree murder.”
Ferguson reiterated that any time that somebody dies at the hands of another it qualifies as first-degree degree felony murder, under state law.
“We understand it can sometimes be confusing for the public, when they don’t have all of the same information that detectives investigating the case have,” he said. “But the community should rest assured that our investigators always carefully consider which charge is the most appropriate in any given case.
“In this case, murder was and still remains, the most appropriate charge,” Ferguson added. “The investigation is ongoing and detectives will continue to look at all aspects and evidence in this case before turning the investigation over to the criminal district attorney’s office for prosecution.”
Through emails and phone calls, Pastrano petitioned the NBPD, Comal County’s DA’s office, district clerk, district courts and justices of the peace for more background in the case. Pastrano filed a writ of habeas corpus and hearing order for 9 a.m. Tuesday, with both signed by 433rd District Court Justice Dib Waldrip.
Pastrano said the family is grieving. He said he has met with his client but would not discuss details because of the attorney-client privilege.
Services for Gabrielle Barrera will be held today at Lux Funeral Home Chapel. Visitation will be held from 5-8 p.m. A Holy Rosary will be recited at 6:30 p.m., with a funeral service to follow.