DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
BURNET — A Burnet County jury needed less than 10 minutes of deliberation before returning a guilty verdict against a 35-year-old man who shot a individual last year while the two were at a 6-year-old boy’s birthday party in Granite Shoals.Burnet County Assistant District Attorney Blake Ewing said the same jury then sentenced the defendant, Mario Alberto Riojas-Contreras, to 18 years in prison.
On June 30, 2012, Burnet County deputies responded to a residence in the 300 block of Sunset Drive near Granite Shoals after witnesses at a child’s birthday party reported a shooting. Officers found 31-year-old Jesus Fidencio Fuentes with a gunshot wound to his back.
Deputies arrested Riojas-Contreras for the shooting. He was eventually indicted on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Ewing said both Riojas-Contreras and the victim were at the party, but, at some point, the defendant left and returned with a .22-caliber rifle. The victim was transported to University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin, where surgeons removed one of his kidneys and repaired other internal damage, including to his intestines.
“It was a small-caliber bullet, but the damage it did inside was life-threatening,” Ewing said.
Along with injuring Fuentes, Ewing said the defendant’s behavior put many other people in danger including a number of children attending the birthday party.
The trial started July 29 with the prosecution wrapping up early July 30. After the jury rendered the guilty verdict, the trial entered the punishment phase. Ewing said the jury could have considered a sentence between two and 20 years, but ended up bringing back an 18-year term.
District Judge Allan Garrett, upon receiving the jury’s verdict, then imposed it on Riojas-Contreras.
Ewing said the length of the sentence coupled with the swiftness the jury reached its verdict clearly shows Burnet County residents will not tolerate this type of reckless behavior in their community.
Picayune staff writer Connie Swinney contributed to this report.