The 340th District Court at the Tom Green County courthouse was full of law enforcement and friends and family of Billy Ray McGary as closing arguments took place Thursday. After a four day trial and approximately 5 hours of deliberation a jury has found McGary guilty on two counts of aggravated assault against a peace officer.
In the final day of trial both the defense and the state’s attorney’s rested their cases in the early afternoon. At approximately 3 p.m., closing arguments started; each side was given 40 minutes to address the court and jury.
The state’s attorney John Best started by telling the jury that while they were deliberating they could ask to see all evidence that was presented in court.
Defense attorney J.W. Johnson started his argument by thanking the jury for their time and expressed thanks for his client as well.
“I’m thankful for the presence of my client and that he’s here and not lying in a cemetery somewhere,” Johnson said.
Johnson went on to say that the responding officers changed their story from the stand and what the incident reports say.
“How many times do you have to hear someone lie to you before they lose their credibility?” Johnson asked.
He also told the jury that McGary did not point his gun at officers. He said McGary was “spooked” when the officers told him to drop his weapon in the middle of the night and under the cover of brush.
In closing arguments, the state presented its argument first, then the defense, then the state has the option of speaking to the jury one last time.
Best started the last half of his argument by going over the events that happened the night of the incident. He told the court that McGary had 18 beers; his girlfriend went over to the neighbor’s house to have dinner and when she returned, McGary was mad over the neighbor’s political views and Obama.
McGary then locked the gate and chased his girlfriend around with a pole. When she tried to call police, he pushed her down the front steps of the trailer house. They (the girlfriend and her daughter) get in the car and go to the front gate, the girlfriend’s 11-year old daughter squeezed through, went to the neighbor’s home and called police. When officers arrived, they waited at the gate for McGary. While the officers are talking to his girlfriend, McGary came out of the house and fired shots in the air.
Best said that law enforcement that night acted in a reasonable manner to the situation. Then he addressed the defense’s claim that law enforcement lied.
“Once you are in law enforcement and you lie, you are done. Do you think all these men (law enforcement) would risk their careers for McGary?” said Best.
The punishment phase of the trial will begin at 10 a.m. Friday morning.
TRIAL DAY 3: In the third day of testimony in a trial for Billy Ray McGary, charged with two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant with a firearm, jurors watched a video taken with Tom Green County Sheriff’s Deputy Joey Rios’ body camera the night of the incident.
Most of the video was dark except for a short period of time when officers shined their flashlights when they saw McGary from the cover of brush.
Rios was testifying when the video was played in court. In the video, Rios and Sgt. Andrew Alwine saw McGary, identified themselves as law enforcement with the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office and told him to stop running and to drop his weapon. McGary did not stop and the two began looking for him.
“I had a shot, I should have took it,” Rios said in the video, minutes after encountering McGary.
Defense attorney J.W. Johnson asked Rios on the stand why he didn’t take the shot and why he said he should have taken the shot. Rios said that it was because he went against his training to neutralize a threat.
The state’s attorney, John Best, asked Rios if he felt bad that he didn’t shoot McGary. Rios said that he had no regrets by not shooting McGary because he would have taken a life and that is something that he would have to live with everyday.
The trial is expected to continue into Thursday.
TRIAL DAY 2: A witness who was on the property the day of the incident took the stand in the trial of Billy Ray McGary, who is charged with two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant with a firearm.
She told the jury that Billy had come back from a neighbor’s house and was upset over politics. She could tell that he’d already had too much to drink and began fighting with her. The witness said McGary told her to never go back over to the neighbor’s house again. The fight escalated to where she decided to call police. She could not get cellphone reception inside the trailer house they were in, so she stepped outside onto the front steps to call 9-1-1. McGary then pushed her down the steps. She and her daughter then jumped into her Jeep to escape McGary. When she reached the gate it was locked, so her daughter fit through a gap in the gate that was chained shut and called authorities. The witness claimed she went into “survival mode.”
McGary’s defense attorney J.W. Johnson asked the witness why she used the phrase “survival mode” and if the state’s attorney reviewed any of her testimony with her before trial.
State Attorney John Best quickly objected to the statement, which Judge Jay Weatherby sustained.
Johnson rephrased the question and the witness said what she meant by the phrase was that she was scared for her and her daughter, but she put her daughter’s safety before her own.
After her daughter left, the witness went back to the house. The defense asked why she went back to the house if she was that scared of McGary. The witness said she wasn’t thinking clearly in the situation because she was scared.
A sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene and met McGary at the gate, who told him that he could not enter onto his property. Then, McGary went back inside. Once inside, the witness left her vehicle and began running towards the deputy.
Testimony will continue Wednesday in 340th District Court.
ORIGINAL STORY:Jury selection began Monday morning for Billy Ray McGary who is facing two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant with a firearm.
The jury selection process in the trial was still underway at the Tom Green County Courthouse in the 340th District court Monday afternoon.
The charges stem from an incident on June 2, 2015, when Sgt. Andrew Alwine and Deputy Joey Rios, Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office, arrived McGary’s residence, 10517 Runion Road, and found McGary had barricaded himself inside the home after a domestic disturbance incident.
Before Alwine and Rios arrived other law enforcement already on scene informed them that McGary had fired his weapon.
Alwine and Rios worked to establish a perimeter in the dark. Once in their position, through night vision, they were able to see McGary 30 feet from their location, in possession of a long gun. The officers identified themselves as law enforcement and ordered McGary to drop his gun but McGary pointed the gun at them.
McGary was booked into the Tom Green County Jail the night of the incident. According to jail records, he has not been released.
Aggravated assault against a public servant is a first degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in confinement and a fine up to $10,000.