Trial begins for man accused of murder in 2012 police chase - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Trial begins for man accused of murder in 2012 police chase

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The murder trial has begun for a convicted felon accused of stealing a truck and then slamming into and killing another driver.

Reynaldo Hernandez, Junior, 38, entered a Travis County courtroom Tuesday facing up to 99 years in prison for the murder of 32-year-old James Williford.

Police say Hernandez stole an F-250 truck from Barton Creek Mall on June 15 of last year and with officers in pursuit, he crashed into Williford's white car at the intersection of Packsaddle Pass and the Highway 71 frontage road. After the crash, officers say Hernandez gave chase through a store and then the neighborhood before giving up. He was on parole for another crime at the time.

Witness, German Sanchez was called to testify about what he saw.

"He didn't even stop. There were no break lights or anything," said Sanchez. "When the truck struck the car, the car flew up in the air, did a flip, all the windows blew out of it and the car became a smashed can. The transmission fell out. I ran up to the guy and saw him take his last breath."

Cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom during testimony. Jurors also heard from Williford's widow Esther.

She told FOX 7 shortly after the crash that her husband, a Seton medical employee and bass player was on his way to deliver money to a friend dying of cancer when he was killed.

"We have so many plans, so I just tell all my friends now please take advantage of each day because you don't know when your last day is and we have no control about anything in life," Esther Seones said.

During that interview, she and Williford's mother said they felt Williford would still be alive had it not been for police giving chase.

As one of the officers involved took the stand, the defense questioned APD's pursuit policy and attempted to poke holes in the officer's judgment.

"The pursuit has created the danger. It is our position that but for officer sergeant initiating this pursuit Mr. Williford would be here today," attorney Kellie Bailey said.

Attorney Kellie Bailey says her client, while a convicted felon, is remorseful about what he did and has been on suicide watch ever since being booked into jail.

Hernandez is on trial for three charges--murder, auto theft and evading arrest. His arrest record includes theft, assault causing bodily injury, and possession.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations tomorrow afternoon.

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