Brownwood police detective Robert Lee’s calm voice was amplified over the 35th District Courtroom’s sound system as he provided commentary Tuesday afternoon on photos of 8-year-old Daylan Franklin’s bruised and broken body.
Seated in the courtroom a few feet away, Daylan’s family members sobbed and consoled each other as District Attorney Micheal Murray displayed the photos, about 15 of them, one at a time on a courtroom projector.
Lee had taken the photos in the Brownwood Regional Medical Center emergency room late in the afternoon of Dec. 17, 2016. The photos depicted the bruises, scrapes and lacerations on Daylan’s body.
Daylan died after being hit by a car as he played with 5-year-old brother, Trae, outside the home of his grandmother, Teresa Fell, in the 1600 block of Sixth Street in Brownwood.
Seated at the defense table, the man accused of driving drunk when his 1995 Ford Crown Victoria struck Daylan — Samuel Juarez Jr., 35 — sometimes looked down and sometimes glanced at the screen as Murray displayed the photos.
Juarez was indicted for murder in connection with Daylan’s death and waived a jury trial, so he is standing trial before District Judge Steve Ellis. Murray said in his opening statement that the state is trying Juarez based on the felony murder rule, which, Murray said, applies if someone causes a death while committing a felony. Juarez’s blood alcohol content was .27 — more than three times the legal limit, Lee testified.
Juarez’s lawyer, Lynn Inglesby of Abilene, did not contest in his opening statement that Juarez was intoxicated. Children often played in the street in the neighborhood where Daylan and his brother lived with Fell, creating a dangerous situation, Inglesby said. Juarez did not see the boy in time to avoid hitting him and tried to stop, Inglesby said, saying the accident was unavoidable whether or not alcohol was a factor.
Juarez, who had two previous drunken driving convictions, is a military veteran who has PTSD, Inglesby said.

Testimony begins
    
The first day of Juarez’s trial was an emotional one for Daylan’s family members, who relived the afternoon Daylan died — a Saturday — through the testimony of state’s witnesses. Unlike most trials, witnesses — most of them family members and police officers — were allowed to stay in the courtroom the entire day.
In testimony that was often tearful, Fell said her two grandsons, Daylan and Trae, were living temporarily with her while their mother, Vanessa Franklin, prepared to move to Brownwood from New Braunfels. Fell enrolled the brothers, who she said were each other’s best friend, in East Elementary School.

The accident
    
The afternoon of Dec. 17, Daylan and Trae were among a large group of children playing near Fell’s home. By mid-afternoon, most of the children had gone home and only Daylan and Trae continued to play outside.
Around 3:15 p.m., a man named Juan Sanchez, who lives a few blocks away, turned south onto Sixth Street off Coggin Avenue in his pickup and drove toward his home. Sanchez saw the Franklin brothers playing outside and slowed down, prepared to stop if the boys ran into his pickup’s path.
Samuel Juarez, driving north in his Ford Crown Victoria, and Sanchez passed each other. Sanchez glanced at Juarez and saw a phone in Juarez’s hand. After they passed each other, Sanchez, concerned for the boys, looked in his pickup’s side mirror.
Fell, seated on her porch, also saw Juarez approaching in his car. Fell said her two grandsons continued to play, running back and forth in her front yard and driveway, playing “tag” and playing with a soccer ball.
“I saw the ball go out into the street and Daylan went out,” Fell said. Fell didn’t see the impact, but heard it and ran into the street. “I saw Daylan laying in the street,” Fell said.
Sanchez, watching the events unfold in his pickup’s mirror, saw Juarez’s car hit Daylan, knocking him up over the hood and high into the air. Sanchez testified he’d seen Daylan on the other side of the street before the impact, and while that detail differed from what Fell described, Murray addressed the discrepancy only by asking Sanchez if it was possible he’d seen a different boy he thought was Daylan.
Fell, Trae and others rushed to Daylan. Trae, who “saw it all,” yelled and cried for his brother to wake up, Fell said. “He wouldn’t leave his brother,” she said.
When Murray asked Fell how the boy was laying, Fell started to cry. “He was laying on his side. His little hands were like this,” Fell said, holding her hands together and placing them against her face. “He wasn’t moving.”
    
‘Overwhelmed’

Fell recognized the driver of the car that hit her grandson as Juarez, who knelt by the boy. “God, don’t take this kid. Don’t take him,” Fell quoted Juarez as saying.
Fell’s next-door neighbor, David Morris, drove into the neighborhood, headed home. Morris saw that something had happened, got out of his vehicle and called 9-1-1. Morris and Fell began CPR on Daylan.
Police, firefighters and Lifeguard Ambulance began arriving, and a medic tapped Morris on the back, saying “we’ve got it.” Morris moved aside. “I recall watching, just overwhelmed — overwhelmed,” Morris said. “I knew the child wasn’t in good condition.”
Morris started to point out to police Cpl. Brandon Johnson where Juarez’s car was located. But the car was gone, as Juarez had slipped away, unnoticed.
A remarkable photo taken at the scene showed Juarez, along with EMTs, kneeling over Daylan before Juarez disappeared — one of numerous photos Murray brought into evidence.
Johnson located Juarez’s car outside the home of Juarez’s mother and stepfather on Eighth Street. Juarez started to drive away, and Johnson activated his patrol Tahoe’s emergency lights and siren. Juarez made a right turn onto Avenue C and stopped.
Johnson’s in-car video showed Johnson walking up to Juarez’s driver’s-side door. “Let me see your hands,” Johnson commanded as Johnson opened the driver’s door. “Step out for me. Put your hands behind your back.”
Johnson believed he saw indications that Juarez was heavily intoxicated. Johnson read Juarez his rights and told Juarez that he’d been identified by witnesses as the driver of the car that hit Daylan. “You want to talk about that with me?” Johnson asked Juarez.
“He jumped out of nowhere,” Juarez replied, his words heavily slurred.  Juarez said he’d had consumed six Bud Ice tall cans. Johnson performed a field sobriety test and obtained Juarez’s consent for a blood draw. Even though he had consent, Johnson arranged for a search warrant from Brown County Court-at-Law Judge Sam Moss for the blood draw.
In a room near the emergency room, family members waited, and a doctor entered to talked to them.
“What, if anything, did you learn?” Murray asked.
“That he was gone,” Fell replied. The medical staff had done everything they could, but there was no chance, the doctor told the family. Family members went in to see Daylan’s body. “It took a while — a long while — before we could leave him,” Fell said.
In an interview room at the Brownwood Police Department, Juarez had been placed in a chair. Lee entered the room and sat facing him. Juarez, his words still slurred, agreed to speak with Lee. “It was the ball or something. I started on the brake …” Juarez told Lee. “It’s been adopted into all of us that what follows a ball is a kid … and there came a kid … I hit him.”
Juarez told Lee that Daylan had “just shot out” from between two vehicles. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was sober or drunk, Juarez insisted — he would have reacted at the same speed.
Lee testified that he believed Juarez’s level of intoxication indicated he’d had more than the six beers Juarez had claimed. Lee also testified that there was only one vehicle parked on the street where Daylan was hit. Lee said the boy did not come out from between two parked cars as Juarez had claimed.
Lee also disputed Juarez’s claim that he would’ve reacted at the same speed whether sober or drunk.
“The little boy didn’t make it,” Lee told Juarez in the police department interview room. Juarez sat quietly for several seconds, appearing stunned. “Son of a (expletive),” Juarez said when he finally spoke.
“You killed a little kid tonight,” Lee told Juarez. “That’s where we’re at.”