Jury finds Gene Vela not guilty

Not guilty; that's the verdict from a Travis County jury in the case against a Marine veteran with PTSD.

Gene Vela was shot nearly two years ago during a standoff with Austin police.

Vela's trial wrapped up with fiery closing arguments by the defense and by prosecutors.

Defense attorney, Skip Davis, told the jury Vela was having a mental breakdown that night. Police units were sent to check on him at his Cental Austin apartment complex.

Davis contends the knocking disoriented vela because the officers didn't identify themselves.

"Ask yourself the question ... what would you do?," Davis asked jurors.

Davis presented a 3D image of the apartment complex to suggest darkness and glare made it difficult for vela to see who was outside.

Vela, according to Davis, believed he was being attacked by unknown assailants and with Vela's own gun Davis used a hunting term to demonstrate how his client was just trying to defend himself.

Police officers Andy Westbrook and Ryan Hancock, who were back in court Wedneday, had testified they spotted a drunk Vela waving a gun while inside the apartment.

They took cover when Vela started flashing a laser targeting device out of his front window.

Prosecutor Kim Bloom reminded the jury about those tense moments for the first responders

"Both of those Officers as well as several other officers on scene and the paramedics were afraid they were not going to live to see the next day," she said.

Prosecutors pat McNelis attacked Vela's excuse by playing again the call from a 911 dispatcher who told Vela officers were at his door.

Using police dash camera video, McNelis argued there was no loud banging at Vela's front door and mocked Davis' earlier description.

The jury also saw text messages Vela sent to his brother that indicated he knew a SWAT team was coming. It was the second time they were shown these messages.

The standoff ended after Vela was shot by police.

"He gave up because he was hurt and for the first time during this entire incident, he needed help ... and he reached out for that help, and you know what he got as help."


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