Jurors in Prado case hear closing arguments

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
Defense attorney Nelson Knight stands outside the west courtroom this week during Antonio Prado's trial on capital murder and other charges in 2017 Denison shooting.

Jurors in the West courtroom at the Grayson County courthouse Thursday heard closing arguments in the state's case against Antonio Prado Jr. who is facing a capital murder charge for the shooting death of 5-year-old Kason Powell back in November 2017.

Prado did not take the stand in the guilt or innocence part of the trial Thursday morning after prosecutors closed their case against him. He has pleaded not guilty to capital murder, murder and manslaughter charges in what prosecutors said was a drug deal gone wrong.

During closing arguments in the case, attorneys differed over whether the case against Prado shows that he is guilty of capital murder or felony murder. The state did not seek the death penalty in the case and difference between a conviction on capital murder or felony murder could determine whether or not Prado is ever up for parole if convicted. If convicted of capital murder, Prado will face an automatic life without parole. If he is convicted of murder, he could be sentenced to anything from five years to life in prison. If he is convicted and sentenced to anything from 60 years to life in prison, he would have to serve 30 years before becoming eligible for parole.

First Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Kerrye Ashmore told jurors they had been presented with plenty of evidence to convict Prado on the capital murder charge. He said Kason deserves as much justice in the case as any of the defendants and it is not easy to try to be his voice in the courtroom.

Ashmore showed the jury a blown up photo of the front of the Powell's family home on Elm Street in Denison that was marked to show where investigators found bullet holes both on the outside and inside that home.

Ashmore said Prado was mad on the night of the shooting because Kason Powell's older teenage brother had stolen drugs that Prado had fronted to someone to sell and that Prado went looking to "take care of business" at the Powell home over the theft. 

Prado had a gun, Ashmore said, and he called on his friend Ryan Clay who was known to carry a gun. They started calling around, Ashmore said, to try to find the Powell's home on Elm Street. When they got there, he said, they didn't fire shots at the cars in the driveway or at the roof of the house or even at the mailbox. They fired at the living space of the home. He said it didn't matter that the shooters didn't know that there was a child in the house. The actions that they took were the type of actions —shooting into the living area of a home— that a reasonable person should know might cause serious injury or death. Ashmore said even if they decided that Prado didn't shot under those circumstance, they know that Clay did and that Prado was involved in a conspiracy with Clay to commit a felony. The felony could have been murder or aggravated assault or deadly conduct, Ashmore explained, and then a death of a child under ten occurred from those actions which would allow them to find Prado guilty of capital murder.

Ashmore and defense attorney Nelson Knight disagreed about whether or not the teens doing the shooting that night had to know that they were shooting at a child and should be found guilty of capital murder. Knight said there was no proof of intent on the shooters side to kill anyone, let alone a child under ten. He repeatedly called Kason's death the result of "random chance" that the person who was hit with one of the bullets was a child.

He said if his client and his friend had "rolled up on a school yard with kids playing and opened fire," then they would have known their actions were likely to result in the death of a child and they would be guilty of capital murder. 

Shooting at a house, he said, where they couldn't see people left them with no reasonable certainty that they were going to kill a child under ten or anyone at all. 

"These people were not targeted," he said speaking of the Powell family. "They were the unlucky random victims of a shooting." 

He said his client was extremely reckless and probably guilty of felony murder.