A jury trial began Monday for a St. Louis man accused of killing another man at a Sauget gas station in 2015 after the victim dropped some beer, reportedly spilling it onto the man’s shoes.
Oscar C. Carbajal, of St. Louis, died after he was shot in the early morning hours of Sept. 5.
Jurors listened to six witnesses of the shooting, including two of Carbajal’s friends who said they saw the shooting.
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Garrett’s defense attorney, Gregory Nestor, argued the witnesses could not positively identify Garrett as the suspect because they either did not see the suspect’s face or could not see him clearly. Nestor also said Garrett was wearing common clothing that night — a white shirt, black shorts and Jordan shoes.
On the night of the shooting, Carbajal had been out at a neighboring club with two friends before they drove over to the gas station, where one of Carbajal’s friends bought a 12-pack of beer from the walk-up window.
A cashier who was working at the gas station said she sold the beer to one of Carbajal’s friends, Fernando de la Torre. De la Torre said a black man came up to him and asked him for one of his beers. De la Torre said he agreed, saying “not a problem.” De la Torre said he could not identify the suspect.
Carbajal then got out of the car and came up to de la Torre, thinking the man was “trying to start something” with his friend, according to the third friend, Fernando Vargas-Rentana.
Carbajal called the suspect a racial slur and said black people “want everything for free,” and urged his friend not to hand over a beer, Vargas-Rentana said.
At one point, de la Torre dropped the case of beer as he was trying to hand it to Carbajal, breaking some of the bottles and splashing beer onto the suspect’s shoes, Vargas-Rentana said. A witness told police the suspect replied, “You gonna buy me new shoes?”
Video footage shows the suspect returning to his vehicle, which was parked at a gas pump, getting in the car, placing the pump in the gas tank, and then walking back to the men, who were buying a replacement case of beer.
The footage shows the suspect removing a handgun from under his shirt and shooting Carbajal. The suspect then went back to his car, a 2015 blue Ford Fusion, and drove away.
The same vehicle was later found at a car rental facility at Lambert airport. Police said the rental company’s records showed Garrett had rented the car just days before the shooting and returned it two days ahead of schedule.
Police figured the vehicle was a rental because it was brand new and had Pennsylvania plates, prosecutor John Trippi told jurors. Police canvassed every rental facility in the area until they found the suspect vehicle, Trippi said.
Vargas-Rentana identified Garrett in court and said he picked him out of six photos police showed him on the night of the shooting.
Vargas-Rentana said he was the designated driver that night and had not had any alcohol. De la Torre said he had seven or eight beers over the course of about six hours that night.
The trial was expected to continue Tuesday.