Prosecutors lay out their case in 2017 shooting death of 5-year-old Denison boy

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
First Assistant GC DA Kerye Ashmore arrives for the Prado trial Tuesday

Almost three years after the shooting death of five-year-old Kason Powell in Denison on Nov. 19, 2017, Antonio Prado Jr. faced Kason's father during the first night of testimony about the night Kason died and Kason's brother was critically injured when shots rang out at their Denison home.  

Prado is charged with capital murder and other charges in relation to Kason Powell's death. Prado, represented in the case by Nelson Knight, has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces.

First Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Kerye Ashmore told jurors that the case started with a drug deal gone wrong and ended with the tragic loss of life for an innocent child who had nothing to do with the drug offense. 

Ashmore said Kason's 17-year-old brother had agreed to purchase some marijuana from Sabrina Nino, another person charged in the shooting death of Kason.

When the older brother and some friends got together to go get the marijuana, they decided not to pay for the drugs, Ashmore said. One of the friends grabbed drugs and they took off without paying for them, and that made Nino mad. She had gotten the drugs from Prado without paying for them, Ashmore said she told him what happened.

He said they had to do something because, as Ashmore put it, "You can't let people do that to you and maintain your street cred." 

So Prado, Nino and a guy named Ryan Clay started calling around trying to find the address of the person Nino had agreed to sell the drugs to. They arrived at the house on Elm Street where Brandon Powell lived with his wife and his children including the 17-year-old who had agreed to buy the drugs. That son was not home when the car containing Nino, Prado, and Clay pulled up out front.

Soon thereafter, gunshots rang out, Ashmore said.

Brandon Powell, the father of the child who died, the one who was injured and the one involved in the drug deal, testified that most of the family had gone to Dallas on the day of the shooting to pick up Kason who was going to be staying with them for the Thanksgiving holiday. While in Dallas, they went shopping and attended a birthday party before returning to Denison at around 10 p.m.

Inside the home, the three younger boys were seated in front of a television set. Two were playing a video game and the littlest boy, Kason, was waiting his turn to play. Brandon Powell said suddenly, the television began to spark and smoke. Then they heard what sounded like firecrackers. It was not until he saw the sheetrock began to fly that he realized that was what was going on. 

He said he started yelling at the boys to get out of the room. But he couldn't see them when they were hit. He pulled the 11-year-old into the master bedroom and his wife pulled Kason into the laundry room. Kason died at the hospital. The 11-year-old suffered a gunshot wound to the upper abdomen. He suffered broken ribs and had to have an additional surgery after spending several weeks in the hospital. He is recovered physically now.  

Brandon Powell said they had no idea, at the time of the shooting, why someone would be attacking them. 

While showing the jury a photo of the home from that night, Prado's attorney Nelson Knight asked the father if the lights on in the living room that night could be seen from the outside. Brandon Powell said he wasn't sure. During his opening statement to the jury, Knight had called what had happened that night "a tragic shooting." He said there were no winners in that situation and it was a tragic chain of events that led to Kason's death. He said if Kason's older brother had not decided to steal the drugs that night "we would not be here."

Knight also said if Nino had not decided to seek revenge for the theft they would not be in court over the matter. Additionally, he said, if the child who died hadn't been the five-year-old, his client wouldn't be facing a capital murder charge.

He is charged with capital murder for the death of a child under ten. Knight said he doesn't believe his client is guilty of taking part in a conspiracy because young men the age of 17 (which his client was at the time of the offense) are "knuckleheaded idiots (who are) not capable of high level conspiracy."

He said they made rash decisions that night, but they had not intended to kill anyone much less a child. Knight said it was just random chance that the youngest child in the room was the one who died. "Tragic random chance," he said. He then asked if the jury would punish his client more because that random chance. 

"I am going to ask you not to," he said.