In Shiner Texas Beating Death, It’s Premature to Let Father Go Scot Free!

On the surface, news accounts of a father (in Shiner, Texas) beating to death a ranch hand, who he caught molesting his 4-year-old daughter, appear to be cut and dry. The father kills the molester to protect his daughter, a valid manifestation of Vigilante Justice. Yet surface is a key word here!

When examining a mere handful of bare-bone news stories that are available to us, we can’t really gather enough information to allow ourselves to say it’s totally okay for the father to have done the killing. The general nature of news coverage (out there in Shiner) causes suspicions immediately! We don’t know the identity of the father/rancher yet, nor do we know the name of the hired hand ‘acquaintance,’ who is the one who apparently, molested his daughter.

shiner father beats
photo by John Kays

Were there any eyewitnesses? From a WCSH 6 report, we hear the daughter and son went to feed the chickens (Saturday afternoon), while the older folks were shoeing a horse. The troubling incident seems to have taken place in the vicinity of this chicken coop, which somehow moves over to a barn in Mt. Olive. The boy reported the problem to his dad, who may have heard his daughter’s plea for help also, but I can’t confirm that he did.

A neighbor, Lupe Zepeda heard a good deal of commotion also, such as when the Lavaca County Sheriff’s squad cars pull up on the scene. The father, who beat the perpetrator to death with his bare hands, was the one who notified the authorities, so that’s a good sign. Still, did anyone else see the pounding? And how many blows did it take to kill this man? Just one punch of his fist and the guy is dead?

The fact that no weapon was employed by the father makes this a little unusual. It’s good the victim’s body is being sent to the Travis County medical examiner’s office for an autopsy, so we can see how many blows this 47-year-old Gonzales man sustained. And I wonder how big and tough this father is, to kill a man with a jab or two to his head? The grand jury will have to look at this also.

And then we have a most shocking response from the public, who have posted thousands of supportive comments (for the dad), urging Lavaca County to let him off scot free, without further investigation or questioning of his actions, which have been characterized as a simple defense of his family. Many of these comments are generated by residents of Shiner, who don’t want this incident to get out of hand, such as the Treyvon Martin/George Zimmerman case has.

Still, these sentiments of vigilante justice are prejudicial and injurious to this fresh incident; we’re in dire need to reach out for some type of objective perspective. They want it to be over with, a done deal, before we know what really happened. We don’t even know the names of the parties involved yet! And news reporters weren’t able to probe very far into the fabric of the story yet, either. (An example) How long had the father known this acquaintance?

Why was the Gonzales man invited to the ranch Barbeque? How long had he been working for the father/rancher? Had they been drinking that day? Say, Shiner longnecks? Most important, did any eyewitnesses see the actual altercation between the rancher and this Gonzales character gone rogue? Is the father a karate or a Kung Fu expert of some kind? The irrational cries to LET HIM GO FREE! must be tempered by the known facts, if we can find any.