ANGLETON — When Don Weido heard a knock on his door in January 2017, he didn’t recognize the two men standing outside, prosecutors told a Brazoria County jury Tuesday.
As the men began shooting him, he ran toward his kitchen yelling, “Why are you killing me,” Prosecutor Jessica Pulcher said in her opening statement during Jarret Angst’s capital murder trial.
Angst, 22, and Stephen Heiman, 23, were accused of arranging to accept payment from Rita Young, 59, to kill Weido at his Pearland home. Heiman was found guilty last year and sentenced to life in prison, the mandatory punishment when the death sentence is not pursued during a capital murder trial, according to online records.
Young and Angst have both remained at Brazoria County jail since their Jan. 27, 2017, arrests on $2 million and $1.5 million bonds, respectively, according to online records.
Angst faces the same sentence if this jury, one of ten men and four women, two whom will serve as alternates, hand down a guilty verdict following Angst’s not-guilty plea.
The prosecutor’s courtroom presentation suggested the motive for 49-year-old Weido’s slaying might have been a custody battle. Young was the former mother-in-law of Weido, prosecutors indicated.
Weido and his ex-wife were in a custody battle for their son after their 2011 divorce, according to the prosecution. The ex-wife’s daughter dated Heiman, prosecutors said.
Young supplied Heiman and Angst with two guns days before the attack and the men bought two boxes of ammunition, Pulcher said. They drove by Weido’s home in the Mallards Landing village of the Shadow Creek Ranch subdivision on Jan. 21, 2017, but didn’t get out of the car that day, Pulcher said.
The next day, they got out and knocked, she said. Heiman began shooting through the door, Pulcher said, then after a struggle within the home, Angst leaned over Weido and shot him four times.
The shooting happened during a Sunday night playoff National Football League game at about 7 p.m., neighbor Samuel Louis said. He heard gunshots, walked outside his side door and saw two people running toward the car in Weido’s driveway, he said on the stand Tuesday.
He backed up to be covered by his own SUV as they drove away, tires screeching, before meeting James Moore, another neighbor, in the street, Louis said. Both of their wives had already called 911.
Moore and Louis walked toward Weido’s house and saw Weido’s dog sitting inside the house, not reacting to their presence, Louis said. Considering the number of gunshots, Louis, who has decades of experience as an attorney, recommended they not enter the house to preserve the crime scene, he said.
Karl Fletcher, a Pearland police officer who was one of the first on scene, said the dog was whimpering when he entered the house. Upon seeing Weido’s body, Fletcher determined was dead and no life-saving attempts would be warranted, he said.
During his opening statement, retained defense attorney Robert Miller told the jury this case will not have much highly contested evidence. That shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a lack of enthusiasm from the defense, he said.
The state will have to prove every element of the case to achieve a guilty verdict for capital murder, Miller said, adding that even if prosecutors prove there was a murder, they will have to prove another element, either burglary or remuneration, for a capital murder conviction.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today in the 300th District Court at the Brazoria County Courthouse.