Testimony underway in trial against Mineola man accused of killing teen

Defense attorney: “Not guilty. Self-defense. Plain and simple.”

Testimony underway in trial against Mineola man accused of killing teen

WOOD COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Testimony continued Tuesday afternoon in the murder trial of Jason Walters. He is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Chris Griffin, 18, at the Mineola E-Z Mart in 2014.

Webxtra: Walters trial

Jurors heard testimony on Tuesday from a 911 dispatcher, two Mineola police officers who responded to the shooting, and the E-Z Mart cashier who was working that night.

A video tape from inside the police department was shown to the jury. The tape shows Walters washing blood off his hands after being cleared to do so by police. His defense attorneys say they were bloody because he tried to help Chris after he shot him.

The tape captured Walters using his one call from the police department to phone his wife. He can be heard saying, “I didn’t mean for it to happen." He later says, “I did what I had to do. I wish it didn’t turn out this way.”

Testimony underway in trial against Mineola man accused of killing teen

The first Mineola police officer to arrive on scene testified that there was no search conducted of Chris Griffin, the vehicle he had been riding in, or other people at the convenience store that night.

Testimony concluded on Tuesday with another former Mineola police officer. Trial is set to resume on Tuesday morning at the Wood County Justice Center.

PREVIOUS UPDATE (Tuesday midday)

Testimony is now underway in the trial of Jason Walters. He’s charged with first-degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of Chris Griffin, 18.

The prosecution and the defense wrapped up their opening statements Tuesday morning after getting a late start because of a missing juror.

The state opened by telling jurors "most of the facts are indisputable.” The prosecution told them they will see surveillance video from inside and outside the store. The prosecution said the incident started as a “staring match” with another person who was there with Griffin. Out of the video’s view, Walters pulls a gun and shoots the victim in the throat, according to the prosecution.

Defense attorney Cynthia Stevens Kent’s opening statement was much longer. She began by almost shouting at the jury.

"Not guilty. Self defense. Plain and simple,” Kent said. She called the shooting tragic, but says her client was in fear.

“How he died will not be an issue. Who shot Chris will not be an issue. Why will be,” Kent said.

She went on to explain how the evidence will show Walters — who was 46 years old at the time — was the target of a “crash dummy mission.” She says he was targeted by a criminal street gang in “a life and death struggle.”

Kent listed several other people who were there that night, including a 35-year-old man who the defense claims initiated the incident by confronting Walters for how he was “cutting his eyes.”

Walter’s teenage daughter was in the car with him at the EZ-Mart, and they had just returned to Mineola from a daddy-daughter date for Father’s Day, according to Kent. She told the jury he stopped for Blue Bell ice cream and “maybe a Redbox movie.” When he saw a lot of activity inside the store, he told his daughter to stay in and lock the doors, according to Kent.

“It’s going to take a while to try this case," she said.

The jury is made up of seven women and five men.

KLTV’s Blake Holland is inside the courtroom. Check KLTV for updates throughout the day.

Previous Story (Tuesday morning)

Day one of the murder trial of a Mineola man accused of fatally shooting a teenager is set to start Tuesday morning in Wood County.

Jason Walters is charged with first-degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of Chris Griffin, 18. The trial started Tuesday morning at the Wood County Justice Center.

Griffin was shot in an alley behind an E-Z Mart in Mineola. According to police reports, the shooting followed an argument that started inside the store and continued outside.

Chris Griffin, and the convenience store behind which he was fatally shot.
Chris Griffin, and the convenience store behind which he was fatally shot. (Source: KLTV)

Mineola police said they found Griffin with a gunshot wound to the neck and Walters standing nearby with a gun.

Griffin’s friends insisted he was not involved in the argument inside the store. Police later said their evidence shows the victim was not involved in the argument.

The shooting happened five years ago, and the case has seen several delays.

“It has been five years, and we’re grateful to see this coming to pass. And it is our prayer that through this process, this community and even this county as a whole can see that even though something tragic has happen, something good and positive can happen,” said Pastor Demetrious Boyd of the Mineola Ministerial Alliance.

At the time of the shooting, neighbors of the accused shooter said this came as a surprise to them. They called Walters a stand up guy, told us he’s a marine and a father of two.

Walters has been out of jail on bond since 2014.

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