GEORGETOWN – A Williamson County jury last week found Avery Ranch homeowner Fred Yazdi guilty of murder in the 2012 shooting death of 23-year-old Enrico Recio.
After some 20 hours of deliberation, the jury of five men and seven women rejected Yazdi’s claim that the shooting was an act of self defense, and returned a verdict of murder in the first degree.
In the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 2012, Yazdi fired three shots, killing Recio. Shortly before the shooting occurred Recio was involved in an automobile accident and ran towards Yazdi’s house.
Witnesses said that Recio appeared intoxicated and worried after the accident. Toxicology reports later showed that Recio’s blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit.
Fred Yazdi told police he thought Recio was trying to burglarize his home, but evidence showed that Recio was shot while attempting to leave the Yazdi’s front yard.
“Shooting somebody running away from you, who poses no threat, is not self defense,” said prosecutor Josh Reno.
However, the defense argued that Recio had turned toward Yazdi while fleeing.
Telling jurors that Lehla Yazdi woke in the middle of the night to the sound of a stranger’s voice, defense attorney Bob Phillips said that a scared Lehla woke her her husband, who got his weapon and went out to check on the disturbance. Phillips said the Yazdi’s were genuinely afraid.
The 911 call made from the Yazdi home that night was replayed for jurors.
Defense attorney Bob Phillips argued that the call demonstrated that Fred and Lehla Yazdi were afraid for their safety.
“I don’t think he’s a murderer,” said Phillips. “I think he is a hero. He was doing a heroic thing for his family.”
In response to the defense team’s assertion that Recio had turned around while fleeing and that Fred Yazdi thought Recio had a gun, Reno said: “Turning around. That’s this defendant’s justification for shooting somebody three times and killing them.”
Reno also pointed out that Yazdi never told police officers on the scene that he thought Recio had a gun.
“Don’t you think he would say, ‘He had a gun, he tried to shoot me’ when officers arrived, or something along those lines?” Reno asked jurors.
Under Texas law, Yazdi could be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison.
Yazdi has already waived the right to have the jury decide his sentencing. By doing so, he gave up the right to argue that the crime should be considered under Texas’ “Sudden Passion” statute, which would have reduced the sentence to a maximum of 20 years.
Prosecutors had been expected to ask to introduce evidence that Yazdi made threats and intimidated his neighbors prior to the shooting, which would argue against a defense of “Sudden Passion.”
Judge Bert Richardson will now decide Yazdi’s fate when the sentencing phase begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning, Oct. 31 at the Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown.