A Fort Worth woman testified Tuesday she heard gunshots outside her home early on the morning of Oct. 23, 2016, and then rushed outside to see a man using the butt of a rifle to beat another man in a yard.
Cassandra Haros testified Tuesday morning she confronted the angry attacker, who asked if she “had a problem” and told her, “He was in my yard.”
She later discovered that two men were dead. One of them was her brother, 25-year-old Daniel Haros. The other was Daniel Haros’ best friend, Phillip Evans Garcia, 25.
Their killer was later identified as Cary Heath, a neighbor of the family.
Cassandra Haros’ testimony came on the second day of the capital murder trial for Heath, 37.
Heath, a former teacher, faces a sentence of life without parole if he’s convicted of capital murder.
In an opening statement, prosecutor Nicholas Vincent told the jury Daniel Haros and Phillip Evans Garcia had never had a problem with Heath.
“While the investigation focused on another suspect, Cary Heath cleaned up what had happened and drove to Lake Whitney, where he dumped the rifle,” said Vincent, who is prosecuting the case with Page Simpson. “He then went to work the next day like nothing ever happened.”
Vincent said the assault rifle was found a year after the shooting by kids fishing at the lake.
Vincent told jurors all the evidence would show that Heath shot his neighbors to death.
Defense attorneys John Stickels and George Huston didn’t make opening statements.
Families and friends of the victims filled up several rows in Tarrant County 213th Criminal District Court on Tuesday as the first day of testimony began.
Witness after witness told the jury that Daniel Haros and Phillip Evans Garcia did everything together and treated each other like brothers.
The jury heard a recording of the 911 call made by Cassandra Haros on the morning of the shooting. She wiped away tears as she sat in the witness chair and listened.
On the morning of Oct. 23, 2016, Cassandra Haros told the jury, Phillip Evans Garcia got her brother up and the two walked out the front door.
“I heard a gunshot, then a pause, and then more gunshots,” Cassandra Haros testified Tuesday.
Heath is accused of killing his neighbors in front of their homes on Buffalo Springs Drive in south Fort Worth.
A trial is also pending for Heath’s wife, Tiffany Heath, who is accused of helping her husband cover up the alleged crimes.
Heath was arrested a day after the shootings in the parking lot of Permenter Middle School — where he taught science to eighth-graders — in Cedar Hill.
The killings immediately followed a “friendly and cordial” conversation at a neighbor’s Halloween party, according to an arrest warrant obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2016, and immediately preceded the suspect saying he would never see his 1-year-old baby again.
Heath and his wife were at a small Halloween gathering at their next-door neighbor’s home in the 800 block of Buffalo Springs Drive. Everyone was standing in the front yard early on the morning of Oct. 23, 2016, when four neighbors came to visit for less than five minutes before walking back home, according to the warrant.
A neighbor said the conversation was friendly and cordial, but a few minutes later, after Heath’s wife and neighbor went into the neighbor’s house, multiple gunshots were heard.
A couple of minutes after that, Heath ran into a neighbor’s house, handed someone his 1-year-old baby and said: “This is the last time I will see the baby. I killed two people,” before running out, the warrant said.
One man was lying dead in a driveway down the street. The other victim lay dead in a different front yard. A medical examiner told police that they died of multiple gunshots and blunt-force trauma to the face and head, the affidavit said.