The case accusing a Dayton man of fatally shooting two teenagers in a detached garage in 2019 is set to go to trial starting Tuesday.
Victor Santana, 65, is accused of killing 17-year-old Devin Henderson and Javier Harrison of Dayton and firing at a third teenager who survived in August 2019. He is charged with four counts of murder, five counts of felonious assault and one count of attempt to commit murder.
Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said the teens were shot and killed while trespassing in a vehicle in a detached garage they thought was abandoned at 848 Conners St., where they went to smoke marijuana. The garage is about 42 feet from the house.
Santana remains in the Montgomery County Jail on a $2 million bond. During a pretrial hearing held Nov. 15, prosecutors said that no offer has been extended to Santana to resolve the case before trial.
The case against Santana has worked its way slowly through the justice system. Santana was indicted in November 2019. The case was originally set for trial in June 2020 and then again in September 2020. The case was again set to go to trial in January 2021 but was continued after the defense cited COVID-19 as the reason why the trial should not take place.
The case was set again for trial in June but was again continued after Santana’s public defense attorney discovered he had a conflict of interest issue and recused himself. Defense attorney Lucas Wilder is now representing Santana.
In court filings ahead of trial, Wilder said that Santana will argue the defense of ejectment of trespassers and self-defense at trial. And in the filings, Wilder briefly laid out what Santana saw during the shooting.
“On August 28, 2019, three males trespassed onto defendant’s property located at 848 Conners Street,” the defense said. “The trespass occurred while defendant was about to go to sleep for the night. Defendant saw the males illegally pass through the gate. Defendant then went to his living room to retrieve his gun because he was afraid the males would try to enter his home.
“After a few minutes defendant exited his home with the gun to get the males off his property. In searching his property for the trespassers, defendant proceeded to his detached garage where he had two vehicles - one which was inoperable (dead battery) and one which was operable,” the defense said. “The garage had no electricity running to it and the garage was pitch dark. Defendant yelled for the males to leave the property. While defendant was at the garage’s opening he saw a light appear in the inoperable car. Defendant opened the door to the car and saw movement. Unsure if the males were going to attack him or what weapons they may have held, defendant fired shots at the trespassers.”
It says he then called 911 and waited for police.
The defense also asked the judge to allow testimony and evidence about previous issues Santana had regarding property damage. The filing said that gunshots are commonly heard in the neighborhood, that in June 2016 a report was made about a plastic screen to a storm door being removed and the main door being damaged and off its hinges.
And in December 2018, Santana contacted police after he witnessed his truck window being shattered by rocks thrown by juveniles.
“Defendant also maintains that almost on a weekly basis, juveniles would throw rocks at his house. He did not call the police for these incidents but instead would tell the juveniles to stop,” the court document says.