Murder trial underway in McLennan County - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Murder trial underway in McLennan County

Source: KXXV Source: KXXV
Source: KXXV Source: KXXV

A 45-year-old man who faces murder charges in the death of Caitlyn Reed is on trial in the 54th District Court in McLennan County Courthouse.

David Zahirniak is accused of killing Reed on April 5, 2014 at her home on Tokio Loop near West. Defense attorneys claim the mother of two young children committed suicide. 

The state called several witnesses to the stand on Tuesday, including West paramedics, McLennan County Sheriff's Office detectives, Reed's ex-husband, and one of her neighbors.

Several witnesses said Reed wasn't suicidal but she was in an abusive relationship with Zahirniak.

He was arrested a month before her death after being accused of assaulting Reed with a deadly weapon and attempting to hit the ambulance she was being transported in with his car.

April Burns, who used to work at Slovacek’s with Reed said she told her Zahirniak threatened to kill her in retaliation after being arrested.

McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Brad Bond, who worked the aggravated assault case, said Reed changed her locks and her phone number after that incident occurred.

According to Laura Helton, one of Reed's neighbors, she noticed bruises on her leg once. She added she saw Reed with a cut lip another day.

Reed’s ex-husband, Zachary Goates, described seeing bruises all over Reed’s body after she started dating Zahirniak. Goates said on the stand he didn’t believe she was suicidal and she wanted to see her two children, who meant the world to her, grow up.

Prosecutors showed pictures of the crime scene to McLennan County Detective Rose Peterson. Reed’s family became very emotional when they saw the pictures.

Defense attorney Alan Bennett pointed out that beer cans and pill bottles could be seen on the dresser in the master bedroom on those pictures to the detective on the stand.

McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Brad Bond said Zahirniak told him during questioning he had spent the night before at the victim’s home and the last time he saw her was when she left for work at Slovacek’s at 8:30 a.m. on April 5. He claims when he arrived at Slovacek’s for his work shift around 10:30 a.m. he was told she had not gone to work.

Bond added Zahirniak told him when he arrived back to the house later that day, he saw Reed sitting on the bed slumped over with a gunshot wound. The defendant claimed he moved Reed to the hallway and gave her CPR. Bond said the defendant told him he never touched or handled the gun that was recovered at the crime scene. According to Bond, the defendant who claimed Reed committed suicide said he had heard about her struggling with depression in the past.

Bond testified that the way she was found did not match the trajectory or evidence at the scene. Zahirniak was charged with murder in May of 2014 after results from a gunshot residue test showed the defendant’s right hand had gunshot residue.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. 

If convicted, Zahirniak could face between 5 and 99 years in prison.

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