Attorneys will give closing arguments Friday morning in 35th District Court in the murder trial of Michael Zarate, who is charged in the Nov. 2, 2014 shooting death of Ernesto Gonzales Jr. in Brownwood.
    The case will likely be in jurors’ hands by mid-to-late morning.
    The prosecution and defense closed their cases early Thursday afternoon.
    The state’s final witness, a ballistics expert with the state crime lab, testified that the bullet recovered from Gonzales’ body, as well as a second bullet recovered from a nearby yard, were fired from the 9 mm Taurus semiautomatic pistol the prosecution alleges Zarate used to shoot and kill Gonzales.
    Defense attorney Tommy Adams called a single witness, Victoria Allison of Brownwood, the mother of the 34-year-old Zarate.
    Zarate, who is originally from Ohio, is the youngest of three siblings who live in Toledo, Ohio, Allison testified. Allison said her youngest son had always treated her respectfully.
    Earlier state’s witnesses Thursday included Brownwood police detective Aaron Taylor and Texas Ranger Jason Shea.
    Taylor testified about records investigators obtained from Zarate’s cell phone after the murder. Phone records showed several phone calls and text messages between Zarate and several people including one of his sisters, Erica. Zarate called his sister shortly after the murder, and Erica Zarate texted a few minutes later, “I think you just broke my heart.”
    In another text, Erica Zarate told her brother to “keep in touch with me but I don’t know if you should keep your phone too long.”
    Shea said he and Taylor spoke with Zarate’s then-girlfriend, Crystal McConnell — whose last name was Newingham in 2014 — several times after the murder. It was obvious McConnell cared for Zarate but was also afraid of him, Shea testified. McConnell was initially deceptive but gave up increasing amounts of information, eventually saying she saw Zarate shoot Gonzales, Shea testified.
    The day after the murder, Zarate was jailed on bond withdrawal warrants for aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child, Brown County Jail records state. Investigators served Zarate with a murder warrant in the jail, Shea testified.
    Shea said Zarate agreed to speak with him in an interview that started out friendly, but Zarate became aggravated and annoyed as the interview went on. Zarate denied any involvement in the murder, the Ranger said.
    At the time of the murder, Zarate and McConnell lived next door to Gonzales and his family in the 1300 block of Brady Avenue, according to earlier testimony. The two men did not like each other antagonized each other over several months, according to testimony.
    The two once got into a fight that ended when Zarate bit off a small part of Gonzales’ ear, and in another incident before the murder, Zarate pulled a gun, according to testimony.
    On the afternoon of Nov. 2, 2014, a Sunday, the two exchanged words outside and Zarate went inside his home, stared through a window at Gonzales and went back outside with a handgun, McConnell testified.
    Gonzales ran into an alley that intercepts Brady Avenue a short distance and collapsed after being shot once, according to testimony.