BARRE — An eyewitness in Jayveon Caballero’s murder trial has given conflicting reports about what he heard.
Caballero, 31, of Barre, has been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Markus Austin in Montpelier in January 2017. He pleaded not guilty to the charge in August 2018, and is being held without bail at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.
He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The first day of the trial in Washington County Criminal Court in Barre was Thursday with the state and Dan Sedon, Caballero’s attorney, giving opening statements and the state presented some witnesses.
The trial continued Friday and one of the witnesses who testified saw what occurred shortly after the shooting.
According to court records, a witness told police Austin was shot around 4:30 a.m. Jan. 22, 2017, in the parking lot outside his 191 Barre St. apartment in Montpelier. Austin died from a 9mm gunshot wound to the chest, according to police and court records.
Police said the shooting followed a fight in Barre the previous evening, when witnesses said Austin hit Caballero’s girlfriend, who required medical treatment as a result. Officials said Caballero waited outside Austin’s apartment before Austin was shot.
Police said Caballero then fled to Florida, where he was arrested in May 2017 and brought back to Vermont.
The state attorney general’s office has argued Caballero shot Austin while Austin was sitting in his car. Sedon has argued Austin was out of the car when Caballero shot and the bullet ricocheted off Austin’s vehicle, hitting Austin in the chest. He said Caballero did not intend to kill Austin.
Sedon said Thursday Austin and Caballero got out of their vehicles and shouted at each other before Caballero fired.
Jeff Sarpong lived in the same building as Austin. When asked by Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Anderson, he testified he heard one voice shouting outside his window, which is on the second floor. He said he heard what sounded like a gunshot and looked outside. Sarpong said he saw a man who looked like Austin on the ground and another man holding a gun; he later identified the second man as Caballero. He said he saw Caballero walk toward Austin’s car, ask Austin whether he was OK and then ran back to his car and drove away.
Sedon said Sarpong was interviewed by a detective shortly after the shooting and again by another detective 15 months later. He said a few months after that he sat down for a deposition with Sedon.
Sedon asked Sarpong, “Through all these tellings and retellings of what happened, and all these people badgering you with questions, have you gotten confused yourself about any of these facts?”
Sarpong said he had not, and he was clear on the facts. Sedon said Sarpong told the first detective he heard voices plural, not a single voice. Sarpong said he had told the detective he had heard voices.
Sedon said Sarpong again said he heard voices during the deposition. Also, Sarpong testified that Caballero’s voice was angry at first, but after he fired Caballero’s voice became more calm and concerned. He said it seemed to him as if Caballero had fired the shot, but almost as if he didn’t intend to harm Austin.
The state called five other witnesses, each of them confirming information in depositions.
Because Monday is Veterans Day, and most state offices and the state’s courts are closed, the trial will not resume until Tuesday morning.