Opening arguments are slated for Monday morning in the capital murder trial of three men accused in the shooting death of Ennis businessman Mohammad Ali Hashemi.
The trial, which could last about two weeks, is being heard in 40th District Court, Judge Bob Carroll presiding. Jury selection from a pool of about 500 people was completed this week.
Eric Lee Maldonado of Ennis; Ruben Hernandez of Garrett; and Fernando Juarez of Palmer, who were ages 21, 18 and 17 at the time of the April 18, 2010, incident, face life in prison without parole if convicted on the charge.
A fourth defendant, Isaiah Gonzalez of Ennis, faces trial at a later date. Gonzalez, who was 15 at the time, was initially charged as a juvenile but has since been certified as an adult.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty against Maldonado and Hernandez – and couldn’t seek the death penalty against Juarez and Gonzalez under a previous U.S. Supreme Court decision that determined a person who is younger than age 18 at the time an offense is committed cannot be subjected to the death penalty.
If a death penalty is not sought, under Texas law, a conviction on a capital murder charge carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole, regardless of the age of the defendant at the time of the offense.
All four have been in custody since the day after the incident.
It was on April 18, 2010, that Hashemi had left his business, the Exxon station located off at Interstate 45 at Farm-to-Market 879 in Garrett, at about 7:30 p.m. to make a night deposit at a Palmer bank.
His burned minivan was located that same night on a rural road south of Ennis; his body was recovered from a wooded area off of Old Highway 75 in Ennis two days later, with an autopsy showing he died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
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