Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of a former Galveston police cadet accused of murder in the 2014 death of her boyfriend, which her attorney called an accidental shooting that occurred as she was defending herself.

Claudia Kristine Esquivel sat quietly Tuesday morning as Assistant District Attorney Gina Gilmore and defense attorney Greg Russell gave their opening statements. The lawyers offered jurors differing versions of both the relationship between defendant and decedent and what happened on June 16, 2014, when a gunshot wound killed Christopher Chapa, 27.

Esquivel’s family sat behind Russell, and Chapa’s relatives sat behind the prosecutors, nearly filling the courtroom.

Lawyers for both sides told jurors Tuesday that Esquivel was holding the gun when it fired the shot that killed Chapa. However, Gilmore told jurors Esquivel was a killer with so little compassion for her victim that she never even called 911 as he lay on the floor dying in Esquivel’s Avenue M home.

“No medical attention was ever given to Christopher Chapa until officers get there and saw him on the floor,” Gilmore said.

Russell said that Esquivel had grabbed the gun to ward off an angry, abusive Chapa, but never intended him harm, as evidence by her removal of the magazine that held the pistol’s bullets. What she didn’t know, Russell told jurors, was that one round remained in the gun’s chamber, as she pointed it at Chapa, who was charging her.

“The gun went off,” he said. “If you had intent to kill someone, as the evidence will show, you don’t take the clip out. You would want that clip in there.”

Russell admitted that Esquivel called her mother, not 911, after the shooting, as Gilmore had said. However, Russell ascribed that to her being “in shock.”

As evidence got underway Tuesday, jurors saw photos of the home and of Chapa’s bloody clothing, including his shirt, which had a bloody handprint from what Russell called Esquivel’s attempt to revive him.

The charge carries a possible prison term of five to 99 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. Esquivel had completed Galveston’s police academy, just weeks before the shooting.

Contact Assistant Managing Editor Scott E. Williams at 409-683-5247, or at scott.williams@galvnews.com.


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