It didn’t take long after Shawn Gant-Benalcazar took the witness stand Tuesday that he tried to convince the jury the wrong man was on trial. He denied going into Kathy Blair's home in December 2014 and was directly asked if he killed her.
"No I did not," said Gant-Benalcazar.
Gant-Benalcazar blames the murder of Kathy Blair on Tim Parlin; a man he knew through his sister. It was initially thought that Gant-Benalcazar was at Blair’s Northwest Austin house before her murder to help Parlin do landscaping work. But earlier in the trial, Blair's landlord and a neighbor failed to identify him as the man working with Parlin. Tuesday, he did admit he was shown the house as a potential target for a burglary by Parlin, but again denied he had been there before.
"He chose it," said Gant-Benalcazar.
Gant-Benalcazar claims he refused Parlin's demands to break into the house but when he spoke to detectives a few days after Blair's murder he confessed to going in and killing her.
"She woke up, she lunged at me, grabbed the knife, started trying to wrestle it out of my hand, and then it was a struggle and I stabbed her in the neck," said Gant-Benalcazar in a 2015 video tape with APD detectives.
Tuesday, while on the stand, Gant-Benalcazar explained to the jury he only knew details about Blair's death because Parlin took him back to the crime scene and described what had happened.
"Approaching the bed he had hit something with his foot and caused her to wake up he said that there was a struggle over the knife and that he stabbed her in the neck, and that she had kicked him and he grabbed her by the legs and pulled her off the bed," said Gant-Benalcazar.
Gant-Benalcazar told the jury he didn’t report the crime because Parlin had used his knife and was going to use it to frame him. He also said that Parlin threatened to hurt his sister.
On the video with detectives Gant-Benalcazar is sleepy. He explained to the jury that he was tired because he had taken valium before meeting with them. He went on to accuse the police of pressuring him into taking responsibility for the murder. Defense Attorney Darla Davis asked, why he would admit to a crime someone else did.
"I was lead to believe that I would be charged with it regardless, and that the only way that I was going to ... I thought I would be charged with it regardless and I was told that the only thing I could do to mitigate the circumstances would be to give a reason," said Gant-Benalcazar.
With no hard physical evidence linking Gant-Benalcazar to the crime, the case may come down to how they jury views his own words. Those he said Tuesday in court and those he said on the confession video.