Murder trial begins for Dayton man who shot teens in his garage

The trial of a man who fatally shot two Dayton teenagers began Tuesday with prosecutors and defense telling two very different versions of what occurred that August 2019 night in a detached garage.

Assistant prosecutor Whitney Crim told a jury during opening arguments that Victor Santana, 65, used the cover of night to sneak up on and shoot two teenagers in their backs and fired his weapon at another teenager who was there.

“The three boys made the sole mistake of trespassing onto a property they believed to be abandoned and smoking some weed,” Crim said. “They were given no chance to escape and given no chance to show the defendant they did not mean to do him any harm.”

Meanwhile, defense attorney Lucas Wilder said Santana was watching TV when he heard and saw who he thought were adults going through his front gate at around 11 p.m. Wilder said Santana was afraid they were going to come into his house.

He said Santana retrieved his gun, lost sight of the people and went outside to find them. He said after Santana got to the garage, he opened a car door and found the teens inside.

He said he didn’t know if the individuals inside had weapons or were going to attack him.

“In that moment, fear hits him and he decides to shoot,” Wilder said.

The trial is the culmination of a case that started in August 2019 when Victor Santana fatally shot 17-year-olds Devin Henderson and Javier Harrison, both of Dayton, and fired at a third teenager who survived. Santana is charged with four counts of murder and five counts of felonious assault.

The teens were shot and killed Aug. 28, 2019, while trespassing in a vehicle in a detached garage at 848 Conners St. The garage is about 42 feet from Santana’s house.

The prosecutors reminded the jury that killing people who are simply trespassing onto property or who are smoking marijuana is against the law. The defense said that Santana was acting in self-defense at the time of the shooting.

After the opening arguments, the 9-1-1 call placed by Santana after the shooting was played for the jury. A representative from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office also spoke about an autopsy done on the teenagers, and a Dayton Police evidence technician talked about photos taken from the scene.

The trial is expected to last throughout the rest of the week.

Santana was first indicted in November 2019. The case originally was set for trial in June 2020 and then 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 then set for trial in June but was continued after Santana’s public defense attorney discovered he had a conflict of interest issue and recused himself.

Wilder is now representing Santana, and in court filings ahead of trial, Wilder said that Santana will argue the defense of ejectment of trespassers and self-defense at trial.

Credit: Parker Perry

Credit: Parker Perry



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