Lubbock man handed 99 years after victim gets ‘life sentence’ in drug-deal-gone wrong

Lubbock man handed 99 years after victim gets ‘life sentence’ in drug-deal-gone wrong
Lubbock man handed 99 years after victim gets ‘life sentence’ in drug-deal-gone wrong

The Lubbock County Courthouse.

For about two months earlier than his 18th birthday Aaron Assiter started promoting small quantities of marijuana and THC cartridges to provide you with the cash to repair his Jeep Wrangler.

And for that he mentioned he was given a life sentence.

Assiter, 20, sat in in the wheelchair he expects to spend the remainder of his life in and informed jurors in the a hundred and fortieth District Court docket about one among his greatest regrets in life: agreeing to promote two, 1 gram THC cartridges for $100 to a stranger who contacted him on Snapchat the evening of Aug. 25, 2020, two days after he turned 18.

He organized to fulfill the particular person on the Drug Emporium in the 5100 block of 82nd Avenue about 1:25 a.m.

However drug deal turned out to be a theft and one of many robbers shot Assiter in the neck. The bullet struck his backbone and shattered, paralyzing him from the chest down.

Bullet fragments nonetheless stay in his physique, he mentioned. Docs informed him they have been too near his backbone and eradicating them risked additional harm.

A jury in the a hundred and fortieth District Court docket deliberated Thursday for half-hour earlier than discovering Assister’s accused shooter, 24-year-old Luis Munoz, responsible of aggravated theft, a first-degree felony that carries a punishment of 5 years to life in jail. On Friday, after about 45 minutes of jury deliberation, he was given a 99-year jail sentence. He must serve 30 years of his sentence earlier than he’s eligible to ask for parole.

Luis Munoz is escorted out of the 140th District Court where a jury found him guilty of a 2020 aggravated robbery that left one man paralyzed from the chest down.

Luis Munoz is escorted out of the a hundred and fortieth District Court docket the place a jury discovered him responsible of a 2020 aggravated theft that left one man paralyzed from the chest down.

The decision got here after a four-day trial.

Munoz is the primary of three defendants charged for his or her roles in the botched theft.

Tanner Stone, 19, and Rodrick Estrada, 27, are each being held on the Lubbock County Detention Middle the place they’re awaiting trial.

Through the trial jurors heard proof that included Assiter’s cellphone information that confirmed the one who contacted him was Stone, Munoz’s roommate.

Jurors additionally watched Munoz’s interview with Lubbock police Sgt. Jesse Akins throughout which he admitted to his function in the theft, saying it was Stone and Estrada’s plan to rob Assiter that evening.

Munoz informed the Akins that Estrada, who was the getaway driver, gave him the silver .38 caliber revolver that he would use to threaten Assiter, whereas Stone stole Assiter’s medicine and cash.

At first, Munoz says he shot the gun when he noticed Assiter holding a gun. Nevertheless, he later admitted that he did not see any weapon earlier than firing.

“I [expletive] up,” he may very well be heard saying.

He mentioned that he, Stone and Estrada drove away after the taking pictures with out taking Assiter’s medicine or cash.

Responding officers informed jurors they discovered 4 vape cartridges containing about 5 grams of THC and about 0.2 of an oz. of marijuana in Assiter’s car.

Within the police interview, Munoz informed the detective that Estrada removed the spent shell casing and bought the gun on Fb. Prosecutors confirmed jurors a put up Estrada made to promote the weapon.

Prosecutor Cassie Nesbitt informed jurors in her closing argument that the proof of Munoz’s guilt was overwhelming.

She mentioned Munoz, Stone and Estrada picked Assiter to rob as a result of he was a simple goal.

“We don’t condone the habits of Aaron Assister promoting medicine,” she mentioned. “However he was silly 18-year-old child who did not know what he was getting concerned with.”

Protection lawyer Marvin Williams informed jurors they need to disregard his consumer’s confession to Lubbock police Sgt. Jesse Akins as a result of he was intoxicated.

“And with out that assertion they don’t have any case,” he mentioned.

He informed jurors that Akins ought to have examined his consumer’s stage of intoxication when Munoz informed him he’d been ingesting earlier than the interview.

He informed jurors he believed Akins did not consider his consumer’s situation as a result of it was simpler to elicit a confession from Munoz if he was intoxicated.

Nevertheless, through the interview, Munoz informed Akins that he wasn’t drunk as a result of he’d solely had one beer.

“It takes lots for me to get drunk,” Munoz may very well be heard saying.

Nesbitt mentioned Munoz did not look like slurring his speech when he answered Akin’s questions.

“Every thing that Luis informed you in that assertion is corroborated by the proof in the case,” she mentioned. “It additional helps the truth that (his assertion) was voluntarily and freely made trigger he knew precisely what he was saying.”

Prosecutor Jessica Gorman informed jurors that Munoz’s actions that evening met each ingredient of the cost in opposition to him.

“There isn’t any such factor as an accident with regards to a scenario like this,” she mentioned. “You present up as a part of a theft plan, you level a gun at someone, that is not an accident, that aggravated theft.”

Stone and Estrada each invoked their Fifth modification rights in opposition to self-incrimination as prosecutors didn’t provide them testimonial immunity. The court docket didn’t compel both co-defendant to testify in the trial.

In the meantime, Assiter, who confronted potential felony prices for possessing the THC cartridges testified with out immunity.

Assiter mentioned he started smoking marijuana when he was 16 and his twice every week behavior grew to almost every day use a 12 months later.

Sooner or later, Assiter mentioned he wrecked his Jeep Wrangler when he unintentionally struck his mom’s car. It might value about $10,000 to repair his Jeep. So Assiter, who additionally started working as an apprentice electrician on the time, determined to promote marijuana to save lots of up sufficient cash to restore his Jeep.

He mentioned by then he solely used marijuana as soon as a day, and would promote the no matter he did not devour, principally to household and associates however made exceptions for associates of associates.

He informed jurors that he deliberate to cease promoting marijuana and THC cartridges when he earned his journeyman’s license, which he was on the verge of attaining. Within the months he bought the medicine, he made about $700, he mentioned.

Throughout his cross examination of Aaron Assiter, Williams, Munoz’s protection lawyer requested him about his drug promoting enterprise and sought the names of the individuals he bought to and the way a lot he bought.

Williams requested if he realized that the quantity of THC he had that evening may have resulted in a first-degree felony cost with the identical vary of punishment as aggravated theft.

“I imply, I’ve already bought a life sentence with no decide and no jury,” Assiter replied.

He mentioned on the evening of the taking pictures, he had simply moved into his new home and was visiting a good friend in Woodrow when Stone reached out to him on Snapchat asking to purchase THC cartridges.

Assiter informed jurors he tried asking one other good friend about Stone however bought know response.

Nevertheless, he mentioned Stone saved messaging him.

“I used to be ignoring him for some time,” Assiter mentioned.

At one level Assiter informed Stone, “You straight up sound like a cop” and Stone reportedly replied with a video of him snorting a line of what gave the impression to be cocaine.

In the end, Assiter informed jurors he believed Stone was innocent since his marijuana offers at that time had been uneventful.

“I figured he was only a cool child that actually needed some THC playing cards or no matter,” Assiter mentioned.

He mentioned when he arrived on the Drug Emporium in his rental automobile, he did not see any vehicles and thought Stone was a no-show. Nevertheless, he noticed Stone, sitting in opposition to the wall by the doorway of the shop.

He stopped his automobile in the center of the car parking zone and Stone ran as much as him, entered the automobile and made introductions.

Assiter informed jurors he requested Stone why he was alone and was informed that Stone’s good friend dropped him off and left to select up a woman on the north aspect of city. He mentioned he felt dangerous for Stone and provided him a journey dwelling as soon as the drug deal was performed.

“I did not need to depart him there,” he mentioned.

Assiter mentioned Stone requested him to drive as much as the entrance of the shop the place he left his bag.

Assiter complied not realizing this was the sign Estrada and Munoz, who have been parked at a close-by restaurant, have been ready for to behave.

Whereas ready on Stone to take his issues, Assiter mentioned he was on his cellphone texting his girlfriend on the time. He appeared as much as see Stone pointing a gun at him.

Assiter mentioned he instantly threw his automobile in reverse and hits one thing. He appeared up his rear-view mirror and sees two fog lights behind him. It was Estrada who drove up behind him.

“I put my automobile in drive to attempt to flip and get out of there,” he mentioned. “Trigger I noticed (Stone) aiming a gun at me. I did not now what he was going to do.”

He mentioned he later discovered that Stones gun was truly a pellet gun.

Subsequent factor he knew, he was shot.

“I simply hear a bang and really feel virtually like I bought Tazed,” he mentioned. “My physique 100% tensed up and my foot hit the gasoline.”

Assiter mentioned he did not see who shot him.

Video footage from the Drug Emporium’s safety digicam’s confirmed Assiter’s car operating into the constructing’s wall whereas the robbers run away.

Assiter mentioned he may really feel a burning ache inside his neck and blood was flowing in all places. The odor of burnt flesh and the scent of iron from his blood coated the air.

He could not transfer his legs or his left arm, however initially believed he was in shock from being shot.

Unable to drive, his subsequent thought was to name 911. However his mentioned his cellphone, which was in his lap, fell to the passenger aspect floorboard when he crashed his automobile.

With no management in his limbs, Assiter held himself up together with his proper hand on the steering wheel and closed his eyes.

“I imagine I mentioned, ‘I assume that is it,'” he mentioned. “I believed, ‘Lord, you are calling my title and that is after I drifted off for what I imagine was one to 2 minutes.”

Assiter described going into a spot of pure peace. Gone was ache in his neck in addition to the scent of blood and burning flesh.

“I believed I used to be fully lifeless,” he mentioned.

He regained consciousness when he felt somebody shaking him and telling to get up. The ache and smells got here again and there was extra blood than earlier than, pooling on his lap and filling the cup holders of his automobile.

“I open my eyes and believing that somebody discovered me, noticed me,” he mentioned. “I used to be ecstatic that somebody simply shook me and woke me up.”

However he was nonetheless alone. His coronary heart sinks for the second time.

His eyes fell on his proper hand however it was clutching his cellphone.

“I used to be past confused,” he mentioned.

His proper hand nonetheless labored and he dialed 911.

“When officers arrived, I informed him every part,” he mentioned.

He informed officers in regards to the marijuana in his backpack in the again seat. In whole, officers discovered about .2 ounces of marijuana and 4 cartridges that had a complete of about 5 grams of THC.

“Even when they have been going to cost me with something I might have taken it,” he mentioned.

When paramedics arrived, he mentioned he realized the numbness in his physique was greater than shock. He requested them if he was paralyzed.

They mentioned he was.

“(I used to be in) simply full shock. Devastation; that I am unable to do any of the issues that I cherished doing ever once more,” he mentioned. “I’ve to alter each a part of my life; relearn to dwell each a part of my life.”

Assiter remembers being wheeled down the halls of College Medical Middle to the emergency room the place his father, a lieutenant with the Lubbock Hearth Division was ready.

He informed jurors he believed his father was the final particular person he was going to see, and he grabbed him, apologized for the way silly he was and requested him to inform everybody that he cherished them.

Assiter remembers waking up after his surgical procedure, not having the ability to breathe.

His left lung had collapsed and docs put a tube in to inflate it. The following evening, his physique went into neurogenic shock, a situation ensuing from spinal wire accidents that disrupts the physique’s blood circulate inflicting his organs to close down.

“However they introduced me again from the (brink of demise),” he mentioned.

He spent weeks in intensive care and was solely in a position to really feel his proper arm.

The severity of his accidents have been past the capabilities of his docs at UMC and he was flown to Colorado the place he was admitted to a rehabilitation facility that specialised in spinal wire and traumatic mind accidents.

It was there {that a} surgeon from the Mayo Clinic discovered of his case and carried out an experimental nerve switch surgical procedure that gave again motion in his left arm.

The months that adopted there have been it is personal hell, Assiter mentioned.

“That is each time the nerve ache kind the bullet began,” he mentioned.

A bullet fragment close to his neck burned his nerves inflicting agonizing ache.

“All they may do was hit me with each opiate in the guide simply to knock me out,” he mentioned.

Surgeons operated on him a number of occasions to take away that bullet fragment.

To at the present time, he feels a relentless ache in his left hand like he is holding it over a lit candle. At occasions, the ache shoots up, inflicting him to twist right into a ball.

The opiates he was prescribed for the ache almost killed him so he simply goes with out them, he mentioned.

Nevertheless, it was the loneliness that was the toughest half to endure. Assiter’s remedies occurred in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant he may solely see one dad or mum on the time for a really quick time.

“I might be alone in the hospital for more often than not, which was tough,” he mentioned.

He was launched from the hospital on the very finish of 2020 and commenced to dwell a brand new actuality.

“Each facet of my life modified,” he mentioned.

Assiter informed jurors that earlier than the taking pictures, he was athletic. He was a defenseman on his highschool soccer crew, ran the 100 meter sprint and shot put for the observe crew and boxed.

His purpose of turning into a grasp electrician is gone and he now works at a brokerage agency and is learning to acquire a inventory dealer license.

He additionally cherished the outside, climbing and snowboarding.

“I cherished it,” he mentioned. “I cherished snow boarding it is one thing I miss greater than strolling.”

Now, he cannot costume himself or get into his wheelchair with out assist.

The worst half is being unable to manage his bladder or bowels.

“As a 20-year previous urinating your self out of nowhere it is terrible,” he mentioned.

Assiter’s father, Brett Assiter, informed jurors that he was jealous of his son’s athleticism.

“He made athletic issues look really easy,” he mentioned.

He described his son as a enjoyable loving, brilliant and comfortable particular person.

“He was tremendous widespread,” he mentioned. “And I at all times mentioned he was a stud he was such a stud.”

He was additionally form.

“He was our delicate child,” he mentioned. “He at all times cared a lot about individuals. We used to child him on a regular basis about being so smooth.”

Now, the assured, comfortable particular person his son was is gone.

“He is very a lot closed off the place he didn’t was,” he mentioned. “He is very a lot inside his head the place he didn’t was.”

Assiter, who has been a firefighter for 25 years, informed jurors that he is seen numerous tragedies on the job. However nothing ready him for what he noticed at UMC when he met his son on the emergency room.

He mentioned primarily based on his expertise, he did not anticipate his son to dwell and considers Aaron’s survival a miracle.

“I imply that from a father’s standpoint but in addition from a medical standpoint,” he mentioned. “There isn’t any reason why he’s nonetheless alive.”

He informed jurors that docs technically categorized his as a quadriplegic primarily based on the harm to his backbone and Aaron shouldn’t be ready to make use of his arms.

“I thank God each single day,” Assiter mentioned.

Aaron Assiter informed jurors he would not want his situation on any of the co-defendants in the case.

“I might have a lot relatively been pulled over with a kilo of cocaine in the again of my automobile than this,” he mentioned. “I might a lot relatively gotten life in jail than this.”

This text initially appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Man handed 99 years, victim gets ‘life sentence’ in drug-deal-gone wrong

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