Victim's teen son points to defendant as killer in 2016 shooting

Becky Campbell • Updated Sep 24, 2019 at 11:25 PM

The jury in a first-degree murder trial heard testimony Tuesday from the victim’s son who saw his father get shot by a neighbor.

That neighbor, Michael Young, 49, is on trial this week for the shooting death of 45-year-old Jose Mijares on Feb. 13, 2016. Mijares and his son Jesus, now 18, were headed to a convenience store for gas and coffee on a bitterly cold winter morning. The young Mijares testified that a green truck, known to him to belong to Young, came barreling up behind their SUV and cut in front of them and stopped at the intersection of Lambeth Drive and North Roan Street.

State prosecutors rested their case with the young Mijares’ testimony, during which he pointed to Young as the man who fired the fatal shot. The teen couldn’t remember much of the minute details about the incident — he was 14 at the time — but didn’t hesitate to tag Young as the shooter.

Police responded to the corner of North Roan and Lambeth on Feb. 13, 2016, after Mijares’ teenage son waved down a passing motorist for help. The teen said he had witnessed Young shoot his father.

The youth told police he and his father were on their way for coffee at a nearby market when a green vehicle pulled out from Young’s driveway and pulled up close to his father’s vehicle as they drove from their residence on Lambeth Court toward North Roan. At some point, the green vehicle, later determined to be driven by Young, went around Mijares and pulled in front of him.

When both vehicles stopped at the stop sign at Lambeth Drive and North Roan, Jose Mijares got out of the vehicle and approached the car ahead of them. The teen said his father was going to talk to the driver about why he had cut in front of them.

The teenager told police he didn’t hear his father say anything but saw the man in the green truck shoot his father. Mijares was shot in the chest and later died from his injury.

Prior to the teen’s testimony on Tuesday, jurors heard more from Johnson City Police Investigator Joe Jaynes, whose testimony began on Monday afternoon. Jurors watched as Jaynes opened two packages that contained the jacket and long sleeved T-shirt Mijares was wearing the day he died.

A forensic expert in gun residue, TBI Special Agent James Davis, testified that he found gunshot residue on swabs that JCPD investigators took from inside and outside the door of Young’s pickup, but did not find residue on a swab taken of Young’s hands. That would indicate he had not fired a weapon, Davis said, but there also could have been external factors that affected the test.

Another TBI agent, Jessica Hudson, testified that she examined Mijares’ clothing and did not find gunshot residue on them. She said that would indicate the shot was fired from between four and eight feet.

After prosecutors rested their case, the defense had time to call one witness. Melanie Hungate, a registered nurse who stopped to help, testified about what Jesus Mijares told her about Young shooting his father and that Young had “looked weird” at Jose Mijares.

In previous testimony, Hungate said the boy told her that his father and Young had exchanged “weird” looks between them. There had apparently been some unrest between the neighbors in prior years. But the difference in Hungate’s testimony was a sticking point for the defense and basically they tried to use it to impeach her as a hostile witness.

Rice did not declare the woman as a hostile witness and denied a defense request to ask a grand jury to consider perjury charges against Hungate. Rick Spivey said the woman’s testimony was “blatant perjury,” but the judge said it was up to the jury to determine Hungate’s credibility. Prosecutors said Hungate’s testimony was not inconsistent from prior testimony, but that her wording was different.

The case will continue today. It was unclear late Tuesday if Young will testify, although in opening statements, Matthew Spivey said the jury would hear from his client.

Young remains free on a $100,000 bond while the case is pending.

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