A jury in Barre convicted Jayveon Caballero of second-degree murder late Monday for the January 2017 shooting death of Markus Austin in Montpelier. The jurors found Caballero not guilty of a first-degree murder charge.
The shooting took place in the parking lot of Austin’s apartment building. It happened several hours after the two men had a bar fight in Barre, during which Austin assaulted Caballero’s girlfriend when she intervened.
Prosecutors said Caballero intentionally shot Austin while Austin was sitting inside his own car. Caballero’s attorney did not deny that his client fired a bullet. However, he said that Caballero shot at the passenger’s side of Austin’s windshield, which deflected the bullet into Austin. The defense said Austin was standing outside his car, not sitting in it.
In his closing argument, Assistant Attorney General John Waszak dismisded what he called the defense’s “magic bullet” theory.
“(The seat of Austin’s car is) covered in glass in a manner that it would not be if a 6’6″ individual wearing a bulky down jacket were in it,” defense attorney Daniel Sedon said in his closing argument. “Markus Austin would have occupied every inch of that seat. It’s only covered in glass because Markus Austin was not (in it).”
The case went to the jurors shortly after 5:00 p.m. Monday, and they notified the judge just before 10:00 that they had a unanimous verdict. The judge did not set a date for sentencing date, but ordered Caballero held without bail. Under state statues, he faces 20 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors and defense counsel both declined comment outside the courtroom. Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan released a written statement shortly after the verdict came down, saying his office agreed with the verdict and thanking jurors for their service.
This unnecessary act of violence should not have occurred in our community,” the statement said.
“Justice has been rendered, and we are thinking of the victim, Markus Austin, and his family, friends, and neighbors. We await the Court’s scheduling of the sentencing portion of the case.”