Garland convenience store shooting trial begins, father of accused shooter faces capital murder charge
GARLAND, Texas - Three teens were shot and killed in a Garland convenience store on December 26, 2021. On Tuesday, the capital murder trial for the father of the accused shooter began.
Investigators believe Richard Acosta drove his 14-year-old son, Abel Acosta, to commit the murders, and they allege that he knew it was going to happen.
"It takes nine seconds for him to shoot 20 rounds. Shooting and killing those three kids and injuring another. All the while, this defendant has his foot on the brake, his truck in drive, waiting. Actions speak louder than words," said the prosecution in opening statements.
14-year-old Xavier Gonzalez, 17-year-old Rafael Garcia and 16-year-old Ivan Noyala were killed in the shooting.
Prosecutors believe Richard knew his son was planning the shooting.
Evidence shows the brake lights of Richard’s truck were on while waiting. Prosecutors believe it’s a sign that shows the father was ready to drive off.
"Before the door is even shut, this defendant is taking off," the prosecution said.
The defense argued that Richard Acosta had no idea what would happen on the night of the shooting.
They claimed Richard wanted to go back home to watch the Cowboys game and that he thought he was dropping Abel off to talk to one of the boys about a necklace.
"When he hears, the shots he immediately ducks. He doesn't have time to worry about his son, he's worried about himself. He doesn't know where the shots are coming from, he doesn't know who is shooting. All he knows is he hears shots. He ducks," the defense said during opening statements.
They then claim Abel jumped into the car and told his father they were shooting at him, which is why he drove off.
"All he knows is he heard shots fired, and he's trying to get out of there," the defense said.
When Abel returned to the truck, defense attorney Heath Harris said Richard drove to their Garland home and claimed that was the last time he saw his son.
"Abel goes upstairs in their home in Garland. Their room is downstairs," the attorney said.
Harris told the jury that Abel was known to run away.
The prosecution believes Richard helped his son escape possibly to Mexico.
Speaking through a translator, Ivan’s uncle, who was waiting in the parking lot, testified about finding his nephew lying in a pool of blood.
"I would talk to him and tell him, ‘Don't die,’" he said.
The surveillance video played in court showed all three victims inside the store prior to the deadly shooting waiting for their food near the counter.
It also shows Richard walking in and buying some Tylenol for his wife. He went back outside and got into his truck, where he had a conversation with his son.
Soon after, prosecutors say Abel got out of the truck and walked to the store's front entrance, killing all three. Much of the video was played in court but is too graphic to show on TV.
Xavier, who was picking up food for his family, was believed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The first officer on scene said Xavier had a pulse when he began CPR but didn't make it. He went on to treat an employee who was injured.
"I start hearing screaming, crying, all that," said Garland Police Officer Bryan Velasquez.
Investigators believe Abel was targeting Rafael and Ivan for a previous gun-related incident.
Xavier’s uncle, Rafael Gonzalez, testified about his nephew’s character. He says some family members could not stomach what they saw on the video evidence.
"It’s something that only somebody that doesn’t have a heart — it’s a cold-hearted killer — would do. Because it’s one thing to shoot somebody from far away. It’s another thing to see him hiding, sneak behind him and shoot him in the back," he said. "They were coming out of the courtroom crying because they couldn’t watch it."
In the days following the shooting, Abel disappeared. His father is the accused getaway driver. Richard turned himself in the day after the killings.
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Back in December, Garland PD Det. Lucas Shupe told FOX 4 he believes the evidence will show Richard knew his son was going to kill the teens.
"He did not cooperate because he requested a lawyer and said he did not want to talk with us," Shupe said.
It’s unclear if there's any evidence that Richard knows where his son is.
The trial will resume Wednesday.
According to his attorney, Richard is expected to testify at some point this week.