BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A 61-year-old man who shot his brother and faced an assault charge that could have landed him in prison for 17 years has been acquitted.
A jury found Efren Reyes not guilty of assault with a firearm on a person, finding he acted in self-defense when he shot his brother in the arm, said Jano Mattaeo, his public defender.
“He was teary-eyed,” Mattaeo said of his client’s reaction upon hearing the verdict. “He was filled with joy.”
Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel said the wounded brother refused to testify. Other family also wasn’t cooperative, leaving prosecutors only with a recording of a 911 call to support the allegation.
“Once the defendant testified there was no one to refute his story,” Kinzel said.
Reyes was originally charged with attempted murder and enhancements along with the assault charge and faced a possible life term in prison. The District Attorney’s office dismissed the attempted murder charge last week when the victim refused to cooperate. Kinzel said they believed they had enough evidence to proceed with the assault charge.
The shooting happened in December 2020 after Reyes arrived home and found his mother crying, Mattaeo said. Reyes believed his brother had hit her and he confronted him.
The brother, Jaime Reyes, 55, went after him with a knife and Efren Reyes shot him, Mattaeo said. The attorney said he presented evidence of Jaime Reyes’ prior violent behavior, including an assault that sent Efren Reyes to the hospital.
The jury found Efren Reyes acted in self-defense, Mattaeo said.
The prosecution argued Efren Reyes was not attacked and fired in anger.
Mattaeo said he was elated with the verdict and believes justice was served.
“I’m thankful the jurors followed the law and took the time to deliberate and come to an independent decision,” he said.