NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The trial of a California man facing charges of aggravated assault and unlawful carrying of a firearm began Tuesday. The crimes were committed June 2016 during a standoff in a Nacogdoches neighborhood.
Lamar Dwayne Allen, 50, faced a jury in Judge Edwin Klein's 420th Judicial District Court. In opening remarks, assistant prosecutor Janet Cassels asked the jury to consider the evidence presented by witness testimony, while defense lawyer John Tatum told the jury as the witnesses come and go, "keep in the back of your mind, reasonable doubt."
Christy Burton, the Nacogdoches Police Department property and evidence technician, took the witness stand first. She confirmed to the jury the firearm which was collected was in fact the same one recovered at the scene.
The state then called neighbor Capital Williams to take the stand. Williams testified she knew the elderly resident who lived in the home where the standoff took place and had known that Allen had been living at the home for about a week. Williams also told the jury the elderly resident is the grandmother to Allen.
Three law enforcement officers testified that the reason they approached the home prior to the nearly four-hour long standoff was to serve a warrant.
As the jury watched a video recording of the standoff, Sgt. Brett Ayres confirmed to the jury that the elderly woman did not have a firearm. As more law enforcement officers arrived at the scene, Ayres said he went on to set up a perimeter around the house.
The state submitted numerous pictures and a revolver into evidence. The defense argued whether or not that was the only gun found at the scene. The state told the jury that the gun was found in a bedroom closet, where Allen was apprehended at the end of the lengthy standoff.
Officer John Berry testified that, while he was conducting negotiations with Allen, Allen said "if you (referring to officers) come onto the porch, then I'll kill myself."
Berry said that he noticed that Allen had changed clothing sometime between the beginning of the stand-off to when he was apprehended. At the time Allen was taken into custody, he was wearing black shorts and a black shirt. Berry also said that, during negotiations, Allen demanded his grandmother's house be fixed. The defense argued that this was a concern Allen held and had requested it in writing, but the state had argued that taxpayer money shouldn't be used to fix a house when damage was caused by Allen, who was non-compliant.
The state called a deputy from the Nacogdoches Sheriff's Office next who made attempts to engage in conversations with Allen by standing to the left window of the home which was breached by officers. Deputy Frank Rudasill testified that he was the person Allen felt comfortable to talk to, as Allen made demands to learn where his grandmother was taken and to fix the house.
Rudasill explained to the jury, in tense circumstances, they often agree to terms laid out by the suspect, in order to extract them out from a barricaded situation and into safety with police officers.
The state played an audio recording of the exchange between Rudasill and Allen. As that time, Allen removed his glasses and could be seen with his head down, eyes closed, and his right hand by his eyes. Allen was emotional and tearful.
A SWAT team member, Charles Cain, with Nacogdoches Police Department testified next. He had a sniper rifle in his hand and was able to see through his scope that at one point he saw Allen with a gun. Cain testified that the firearm, a revolver, which was recovered at the scene and submitted into evidence, was not the firearm he saw through his lens. Cain said he saw a black pistol. Cain said Allen pointed a firearm to an officer, when Allen was moving side-to-side in the bedroom.
Another team leader with the SWAT team confirmed the testimony Cain made of the pistol Allen held during the standoff which was not the same firearm submitted into evidence.
The state rested presenting their evidence at the end of the day.
Defense will continue with the trial on Wednesday at 9 a.m.