BRYAN - September 9th update:
KBTX has confirmed that Gabriel Hall arrived at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit in Livingston on Friday. That's where death row inmates serve time. For more on the facility go to this link:
There was no emotional reaction from Gabriel Hall as he heard the jury's decision Wednesday night. Hall has been sentenced to death by lethal injection for the 2011 murder of Edwin Shaar, Jr. in College Station. The punishment is automatically appealed because of the death sentence. The jury spent just over seven hours reaching their decision and some of them were seen crying as the verdict was read. Edwin Shaar's wife, Linda, was not in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Hall was 18 when he killed Edwin Shaar and said he wanted to do it because he was angry and unhappy with his own life.
8:06 p.m. update:
We've just been notified that a verdict has been reached in the Gabriel Hall capital murder trial. The jury deliberated for 7 hours today. We're waiting to hear what that verdict is.
The jury is now deliberating the fate of Gabriel Hall, the 22-year-old convicted of murdering Edwin Shaar, Jr. in 2011. Both the state and defense were given 90 minutes Wednesday morning for closing arguments. Hall could receive life in prison with no chance of parole or he could be sentenced to death for the crime. Prosecutors say Hall remains a risk to others inside and outside of jail. The defense argues his hardships as a child and a teenager were contributing factors to the crime and life in prison in the right choice. If the jurors don't reach a verdict Wednesday, they'll be sequestered overnight in a hotel and will continue deliberations Thursday.
Rusty Surette and Brooke Wellborn are providing real-time updates on a blog from inside the courtroom.
Click here to get real-time updates from News 3's Rusty Surette in the courtroom.
Tuesday, October 6th
Here are five key moments from today's testimony in the punishment phase of this trial:
Both Sides Rest
Both sides rested today. Each will have 90 minutes Wednesday morning for closing arguments and after that the jury will begin deliberations. They'll be sequestered in a hotel overnight if they don't reach a decision on Wednesday.
Inmate Refuses To Testify
Gabriel has shared a lot of information in the Brazos County jail with a cellmate named Justin Williamson, but the 24-year-old refused to share any of those details with the court today. He was held in contempt of court for refusing to testify and given an additional 6 months in jail for it. Williamson told an investigator in a meeting earlier this year that Hall asked him for several favors including breaking into and burning down Karen and Wes Hall's lake house. Gabriel told Williamson that he hated his adoptive mother, Karen Hall, and said she should be arrested for child abuse. Gabriel told Williamson that he would stand over Karen Hall with a gun and watch her while she was sleeping.
The Hour Before The Murder
Dr. Timothy Proctor, a psychologist who conducted an evaluation and interview with Gabriel Hall in jail, said Gabriel was at home eating yogurt, sipping on a glass of wine and "enjoying the silence" before walking over to the Shaar's home on October 20, 2011. Dr. Proctor went on to say that Gabriel does not show any signs of having PTSD or any other serious mental disease or defect. That conflicts with the testimony we've heard from other doctor who've testified in this case.
Linda And Trey Shaar
Both Linda and Trey Shaar testified on the stand today and told us more about Edwin. They said he the retired A&M professor and Navy vet was a wonderful father and husband who is greatly missed. We saw old family photos of Edwin playing with his kids. Linda said she used to love to sing, but can no longer do it after Gabriel cut her neck.
Costs For Trial
This is the fifth week for this case and the Brazos County Auditor tells KBTX the defense has spent $850,042.92 defending Gabriel Hall. If you add in the costs from prosecutors, time in jail and the police work that went into this case.. it's safe to say tax payers have spent more than a couple million dollars for this trial. We're estimating the jurors alone have taken home more than $11,000 for their service in the past month.
Monday, October 5th
We are now in the fifth and possibly final week of the Gabriel Hall capital murder trial. Here's five key moments from today's testimony.
"Intrigued" By News Coverage
College Station police detective Derrick Cooper says the day after the homicide Gabriel Hall was being transported to the police station from the park where he claimed to have tossed the weapons into a lake. On the way back, Hall asked them to stop and get a copy of today's paper. They considered it to be an unusual request, but agreed. Detective Cooper says Gabriel was "intrigued" by the front page story of the murder.
Today the defense rested its case in this punishment phase of the trial. The state is likely finish its rebuttal on Tuesday and the jury could begin deliberations as early as Wednesday morning.
The defense team's final witness was Eralyn Hall, Gabriel's biological sister who was also adopted by Karen and Wes Hall. She's now 28. She shared stories from their childhood in the Philippines and said they were abused by their biological parents and were often hungry. She also backed up the claims from other siblings about the physical and emotional abuse inside the Hall's home. Eralyn says Karen would call Gabriel stupid and retarded, and once threatened to cut her thumbs off at the dinner table. Eralyn became emotional several times during her testimony. She says she still loves Gabriel and wishes she could have helped him fight "his demons."
Yana McDonough was called to the stand by prosecutors and asked to share stories of what life is like inside the Hall's home. She paints a completely different picture of what Karen is like as a mom. Yana was adopted along with others from Russia before Gabriel and his siblings were adopted from the Philippines. Yana says he's never witnessed any physical abuse in the Hall's home and says all the negative comments directed towards her mother have been "hurtful and hard to hear." During her testimony she said "Gabriel was my brother. I loved him."
Dr. Randall Price, a forensic psychologist, said on the stand today that nueropsychological tests conducted on Gabriel came back "normal" and based on the tests he's reviewed from other doctors, it's appears to him that Gabriel did not suffer a traumatic brain injury.
Friday, October 2
The only person to testify on the stand Friday was Dr. Richard Adler, a Seattle-based psychiatrist. Here's five key takeaways from that testimony:
No Second Thoughts
Dr. Adler conducted a psychiatric examination with Gabriel in August 2013. In those two hours together Gabriel said he had walked around for nearly two years thinking about killing a stranger, but he stalled because he had "stuff to do." After the murder, Gabriel said he had no second thoughts about doing it.
Linda Shaar Was "Collateral Damage"
In that same examination, Gabriel told Dr. Adler that Linda Shaar was collateral damage and because she was there at the time, he had to kill her too.
Dr. Adler told the jury that Gabriel was a very low birth weight infant and that's significant because that puts him at a high-risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. He went on to say that Gabriel was developmentally delayed and suffers from several psychological disorders including an identity disorder and PTSD.
He goes on to say part of those disorders are due to his likely prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol. He says "kids like this" are very susceptible and vulnerable.
Dr. Adler says the jury should consider his testimony to be an explanation, not an excuse for Gabriel's actions.
Dr. Adler says he does not agree with one of the state's expert witnesses who will be called to the stand next week. Another one of the state's experts disagrees with Dr. Adler's finding. We'll hear more about this next week.
Thursday, October 1st
For the second day Karen Hall testified on the stand and there were several dramatic moments including two emotional breakdowns. Defense attorneys spent a combined total of more than seven hours questioning Gabriel's adoptive mother about the alleged abuse and neglect in the Hall's home. Here are five key moments from today's testimony:
Karen previously referred to herself as another victim in all this. Today she told the jury she wished Gabriel would have taken her life instead of Edwin Shaar, Jr.'s life. She also stopped Linda Shaar in the hallway today and offered up an apology. The Judge later lectured Karen about speaking with other witnesses in the case.
Karen says Gabriel is a smart kid who came up with a "master plan" to take down the entire family. She accused him of sending letters from inside the jail to other siblings in an effort to influence their testimony on the stand.
Examples Of Yelling
Twice today defense attorneys asked Karen to give the jury an example of how loud she could yell when angry. In the first example she pretended that she was yelling at Gabriel for killing a pet llama. In her second example she yelled directly at defense attorneys and vented her frustrations with them. [See video clips for these moments]
False Reports To IRS?
The amount of time Karen spent with the kids vs. work was discussed today. In 2007 Karen reported to the IRS she worked 65 hours per week. She told the court today the real number was only 5 hours a week excluding time on her computer.
Karen didn't remember how many hours she worked in 2008 and 2009. She also claimed not to remember several examples of the abuse alleged by some of her children. Karen told the court that she was involved in a head-on crash years ago and he's had memory loss since then.
Wednesday, September 30th
Gabriel's adoptive parents, Karen and Wes, both took the stand today and denied allegations of neglect and abuse. The Halls have been in the spotlight during this trial after defense attorneys said Gabriel's misery at home with them were a contributing factor to the murder of Edwin Shaar, Jr. Here are five key moments from today's testimony.
No Knowledge Of Trauma
Defense attorneys say Gabriel needed therapy to help cope with his own childhood traumas, and not only did the Halls fail to get him the help he needed, they exposed him to more abuse and neglect after they adopted him. Karen Hall said today that she was unaware of the exact details of Gabriel's traumatic childhood.
Attorney or Father?
Wes Hall is an attorney and former Justice of the Peace. Defense attorneys say after learning Gabriel was a murder suspect, Wes acted more like an attorney than a concerned father.
We heard several recordings in court from College Station police. In those recordings Wes refers to Gabriel, his adoptive son, as "that guy."
He's also told a detective that he's on "their team".
Running From The Law
Karen Hall denied accusations that she tried to out run deputies who were attempting to serve her a subpoena for the trial. She says the first day deputies arrived at her home, she was in a rush to get out the door and get her mother to a hospital.
According to defense attorneys, Karen Hall told investigators that she was as much of a victim in this case as the Shaars. Karen says she doesn't remember ever saying that.
Abuse And Neglect Allegations
Both Karen and Wes Hall denied allegations of physical and emotional abuse. Several of their adoptive children, including Gabriel, have made those claims. She says the most she's ever done is swat the kids on their bottom.
Tuesday, September 29th
Here are five key developments from today's testimony
Gabriel Hall told a psychologist during a jailhouse interview that his confession to the murder was nothing more than a "sob story to piss off police." He said the reason he did it was to blow off steam. He also said he lied to police about where he hid the weapons because he wanted to see them expend their resources searching for the gun and knives.
Hall also told Dr. Bethany Brand in that same evaluation that he often thinks of murdering other people because it helps him to fall asleep at night. He also recalled a couple of times he considered killing his adoptive parents. He said he once wanted to stab Wes Hall with knives after he was scolded for playing video games. He recalled another time he wanted to throw a knife into Karen Hall's neck.
Gabriel's adoptive father took the stand today. He'll be back at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning to continue his testimony. Mr. Hall said he had reservations about adopting Gabriel Hall and his siblings because of his own age and the fact that there were already more than a dozen kids in their home. Karen Hall apparently threatened to divorce Wes if he didn't go allow with her wishes to adopt Gabriel and the others from the Philippines.
We saw Karen Hall in the court today asking Judge Bryan if her testimony could be postponed until Wednesday afternoon due to a conflict with her schedule. The Judge agreed. In testimony today, we heard from a Brazos County Sheriff's Deputy who said Karen Hall tried to outrun and hide from deputies when they attempted to serve her a subpoena.
Dr. Bethany Bland told the jury that Gabriel suffers from several psychological disorders that she believes influenced his willingness to kill Edwin Shaar, Jr.
Monday, September 28th
Here are five key developments from today's testimony.
Only two experts testified today including Dr. Jolie Brams. The psychologist told the jury that there were multiple traumatic factors in Gabriel's childhood including generational deprivation, dire poverty, he was born premature, severe hunger, domestic violence, physical abuse, emotional abuse, he witnessed torture, was abandoned multiple times and his parents were often doing drugs. Dr. Brams said Gabriel's biological parents also suffered traumatic experiences. She said this is an example of "generational trauma" - when traumatized parents raise traumatized kids.
Adoption "Destructive And Inappropriate"
Dr. Brams said Gabriel's adoption by Karen and Wes Hall as "destructive and inappropriate." She noted that someone who has gone through the high number of traumatic experiences such as Gabriel should have immediately begun therapy and counseling following his adoption, but that never happened. Instead he was exposed, allegedly, to more verbal and emotional abuse and witnessed physical abuse of other siblings by his adoptive mother.
"More Allegations Of Child Abuse
Dr. Bethany Brand, another psychologist, said Hall was forced to smoke a form of crystal meth with his mom when he was a preschooler, and his father would repeatedly pinch Gabriel's genitals in an effort to stop him from crying.
Dr. Brand described Hall's childhood as "unusual and horrific." She says his traumatic experiences "placed him at extremely high risk for aggression and criminal behavior" and suicide.
The Jury was told they could begin deliberating Hall's fate as soon as next Tuesday. They were also reminded they should not be speaking with other people outside the jury in the hallways of the courthouse. Apparently there was an incident Friday that sparked this reminder. We also know that at least one juror expressed some concern about someone in the courtroom audience pointing at the jury during Friday's testimony. The Judge asked the audience refrain from doing that.
Friday, September 25th
On Friday we heard from nine witnesses including another correctional officer who says Hall was no problem on her shift and a former P.E. teacher who described Hall has a child. Two more of Hall's adoptive siblings took the stand and shared similar stories of abuse inside Karen and Wes Hall's home. Natalia McDonough and Allan Hall provided emotional testimony. The most stunning moment came from Hall's testimony when he saw the so-called hit list created by Gabriel for the first time. He appeared to be shocked to see his own name on the list.
Thursday, September 24th
Here are five key developments from today's testimony:
Sasha McDonough, one of Gabriel's adoptive siblings, continued her testimony today and said their mom, Karen Hall, is abusive both mentally and physically. Sasha's testimony became so emotional at one point the Judge stopped her and asked for a break.
Two of Gabriel's friends from school took the stand today to share their memories of Gabriel before he became a convicted killer. They described him as a very nice guy who tried to fit in, but often appeared sad and worried. They say Gabriel was rarely allowed to hang out with them.
Dr. David Bosse, Karen's first husband, took to the stand today to paint a very unflattering picture of Karen. He went into detail about an ugly divorce involving a tug-of-war with their four children. The prosecutors protested to this and asked how it was relevant to the case. The defense argued back and says it proves Karen has a "pattern of behavior" and that behavior played a role in Gabriel's personal misery.
Life Behind Bars
We heard from another correctional officer today who said Gabriel was never any real trouble during his shifts. He said Gabriel was written up once in jail for talking after lights were out for the night. Another deputy said Gabriel has received his GED during his time at the Brazos County jail.
The defense team ran out of witnesses today shortly after 3:00 p.m. Judge Bryan was quick to remind all attorneys that witnesses need to be here on time and each day they need to make the most of the time available in court.
Wednesday, September 23rd
Here are five key developments from today's testimony in court:
Hours Before The Murder
Today we heard from a neighbor of the Halls who said Gabriel was a friend of her son. On October 20, 2011, the day of the homicide, Joy Anderholm agreed to give Gabriel a ride home from school. She says he appeared sad as he exited her vehicle. She became very concerned because Gabriel looked suicidal. We now know this was in the hours leading up to the murder.
The Day After The Murder
The day after Edwin Shaar, Jr. was brutally killed, Gabriel Hall went to school where he did well on a test in one class. Today we heard from another teacher who said she saw Gabriel at school and it looked like he "wanted to say something" but he never did. She also noticed Gabriel wasn't wearing a hat that day, which was odd because it was Friday. She said Hall would wear a hat every Friday because it made other kids laugh and they would call it "Crazy Asian Wears A Hat Day."
Bullied In School
Gabriel was bullied in high school, according to a former A&M Consolidated High School classmate today. He said most of the abuse was verbal, but there was a time when another kid took a rule and would strike Hall.
Two former and one current employee of the Brazos County jail testified today that Gabriel Hall has and never was a problem on their watch. One former detention officer called Gabriel a "model inmate." Of course, that's different from testimony we've heard previously from other guards who say Hall has a history of hiding weapons in his cell. Hall has also been heard making threats to harm other inmates and guards if he's given life in prison.
Sasha McDonough is Gabriel's adoptive sister. She was adopted from Russia by Karen Hall and Karen's ex-husband, Kim McDonough.
Sasha described a horrific childhood in Russia and told the court she was put into a home of emotional neglect with Karen Hall. Sasha's testimony was put on hold shortly after 5:00 p.m. Wednesday. We'll hear from her again first thing Thursday morning.
Tuesday, September 22nd
We're now in the second week of Hall's punishment trial. Here's five key developments from today's hearings.
Comedy Central Video
Today we saw video from the interview a film crew from Comedy Central did with Gabriel Hall inside the Brazos County jail. Hall told comedian Jeff Ross that he was "born with a frown" and claimed he was innocent. Hall also shared two jokes about Asians, but never told the host/comedian what crime he was charged with. Ross asks Hall if he was caught "hacking into a computer?" Hall responds by saying "something like that." Another inmate says "hacking being the operative word."
Betsy is Edwin and Linda's daughter who told the jury today about the day she received the news of her father's death. She says her mother, Linda, has never returned to their home on Deacon Drive in College Station.
Gabriel Hall's brother-in-law, Stephen Stevens, told the jury today he's never seen any abuse inside the Hall's home. Stephen was one of several names on Gabriel's "hit list."
A woman who said she was a teacher at the Children's Shelter of Cebu in the Philippines described Gabriel Hall as an engaging, sweet student who was often distracted and scattered.
Today was a half-day for the court. The jury was sent home just before noon because a soon-to-be-called witness had to interview Gabriel Hall outside the courtroom. Judge Bryan told the jury today that testimony will last through next week and the soonest they could begin deliberations is Monday, October 2nd.
Monday, September 21st
We're now in week number three for this case. Here's five key developments from today's hearings.
On Monday we heard from two of Gabriel's adoptive sisters, both with very different versions of life in the home of Karen and Wes Hall, the people who adopted Gabriel Hall when he was a child. Susan Hall said Karen was physically and mentally abusive to some of the 19 kids who lived in the Hall home during Gabriel's teenage years. Alexandria Hall, another sibling, painted a different picture of the Halls. She painted a picture of a strict, but loving home.
We heard from several people on the so called hit lists written by Gabriel Hall prior to the murder of Edwin Shaar, Jr. Two former classmates, his sisters and a next-door neighbor all said they have no idea why their name would be on the list.
Comedy Central Video
Judge Bryan ruled that portions of a video from Comedy Central can be shown to the jury. The video that features Gabriel Hall will show his character and no-remorse attitude behind bars, according to prosecutors. Defense attorneys were fighting to keep portions of the video from the jury, saying Gabriel and other inmates were interviewed without attorneys present, and they had no idea the footage would be used against them in court. Comedy Central was at the Brazos County jail for a stand-up comedy show featuring some of the inmates. The special aired earlier this summer, but the clips involving Gabriel Hall were removed from the show.
Several correctional officers told the court today Hall has hidden several weapons in his cell at the Brazos County jail, including a "shank" and razor blades. Attorneys went back-and-forth on the purpose for those weapons, saying they could have been used for a planned attack, or for defense from other inmates.
Commander Edwin Shaar, Jr.
Emotional testimony Monday came from a longtime friend of Edwin and Linda Shaar. Robert Parlo told the jury Edwin was "a great guy, a great neighbor who loved his wife and did everything he possibly could to keep Linda Shaar happy." Pardo says he often drives by Deacon Drive (where the Shaars lived) and every time he sees the street sign it reminds him of the murder. "I see that sign and I just want to stop and rip it down so I don't have to think about it anymore," he said."
Friday, September 18th
Dr. Bethany Brand, a psychologist, says Gabriel Hall suffers from four psychological disorders. Three of those she believes contributed to his crime.
-Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dr. Brand has also diagnosed Hall with Trichotillomania, a hair pulling disorder. She does not believe this played a role in the murder of Edwin Shaar, Jr.
Earlier this morning Judge Travis Bryan III declared competent to stand trial following an incident on Thursday. Details of what happened between Hall and his defense attorneys were not publicly revealed.
Dr. Jolie Brams, a psychologist, said today Hall was in dire need of treatments for his childhood traumas and never received it following his adoption by Karen and Wes Hall in College Station.
She went on to say Gabriel Hall's adoption was "inappropriate and destructive."
The Judge is expected to rule Monday morning on whether or not video footage from Comedy Central that includes Gabriel Hall can be presented to the jury.
Thursday, September 17th
Here are five key developments from today's hearing:
Prosecutors and defense attorneys went back and forth today with a former detective who says two handwritten hit-lists were found in Gabriel Hall's bedroom. One list had several names but nothing else. The other list had three names with a type of gun next to each name. Gabriel told detectives after his arrest he was planning to give each person on that list that specific type of gun. Defense attorneys say the names were not lists of people he was intending to harm. A third piece of paper listed several "Quotable Quotes" from Hall's adoptive parents, Karen and Wes Hall. The quotes are very derogatory remarks they allegedly made towards Gabriel.
You can view the notes yourself by clicking on the link to Rusty Surette's blog on this page
Threats From Jail
A former and current inmate both testified today that Gabriel Hall has made threats from behind bars. He told one inmate he'd kill another inmate if he was sentenced to life in prison. He told a different inmate he'd kill a guard if he was convicted of the crime. Gabriel's nickname is jail is "chopsticks."
"The Weather Was Nice"
Today the jury was shown a video tape of Gabriel confessing to investigators a few days after his arrest. In the tape, Gabriel is heard saying he randomly chose the Shaar's home, but he specifically liked their place because the trees around the home provided cover for his crime. When asked why he chose to carry out the attacks on that day specifically, Hall simply says "the weather was nice."
Interest In Law Enforcement Careers
A former A&M Consolidated High School teacher testified today that Hall once wrote in an essay that he wanted to be a police officer or crime scene investigator after finishing high school. He was planning to attend Sam Houston State University.
Sudden End To Day
Linda Shaar and family were back in the courtroom today, but shortly after 3:00 p.m. the Judge said a matter had come up the and the jury would be sent home early. He didn't elaborate on what the issue was. On Friday, there are several hearings scheduled with expert witnesses without the jury. The jury won't be back in the courtroom until Monday morning.
Wednesday, September 16th
Here are five key developments from today's hearing.
Gabriel's Biological Father
Eduardo Canada, Sr. told the jury today his kids were often beaten and received painful punishments for crying too much. He admitted to using drugs and said he would often fight with his wife because of money problems. He said the family would hunt, trap and eat neighborhood pets because there wasn't enough food around. Canada says when Gabriel Hall was three, he was dropped on his head during a fight he was having with Gabriel's mother, but they never took him to the hospital because they had no money.
Gabriel's Biological Brother
Eduardo Canada, Jr. told the court today he still loves his brother and became emotional when he left. On the stand he recalled times when his father would beat him and said he was once placed into a sack, beaten and then hung over a fire. Canada, Jr. said he was removed from the orphanage where Gabriel was because he was accused of attempting to molest girl in the shelter. He also shared the story of a time when he and Gabriel were at a neighbor's home watching porn. He described the neighbor has an "old gay" man who touched his shoulder. Canada said he immediately left the home, but left Gabriel in there for 20 minutes. Gabriel would not say what happened in the home.
Reaction to 9/11
A former resident of the orphanage that took in Gabriel and his siblings testified today. Joselito Mahilum said he was the same age as Gabriel and remembered him being a "genius" in school who was fascinated with insects. Mahilum said after learning about the 9/11 attacks in America, Gabriel mentioned he wanted to make a bomb out of AA batteries. Mahilum said Gabriel only said it once and never mentioned it again after that.
Return To Home?
Today the defense finished questioning all of its witnesses from the Philippines. There were 10 total.
For the second day in a row, Linda Shaar was not in the courtroom.
Tuesday, September 15th
Here are five key developments from today's hearing.
Clarissa Espinosa was the first of six witnesses to take the stand today. She became very emotional when describing their childhood in the slum in Cebu City. She says their parents were often gone and she had to take care of Gabriel. She would often shield him from the abuse of their father and would provide whatever medical care she could to a very sick Gabriel.
Erlinda Espinosa was also emotional on the stand as she described her abusive relationship with Gabriel's father and their living conditions. She said Gabriel was born a premature baby and taken home in a shoe box and kept warm with a light bulb. She law saw Gabriel in 2003. Erlinda said the family was poor, struggled for food and money and said Eduardo Canada, Sr., Gabriel's father, would hit her, put alcohol in her eyes and one time urinated on her when she was in bed. She said this happened in front of Gabriel. Eduardo is expected to testify possibly as early as Wednesday.
Prosecutors pointed out that even though Gabriel had a horrific childhood, his sister took in more of the physical and mental abuse, but she has never murdered anyone.
We heard from a case worker at the Children's Shelter of Cebu where Gabriel and his siblings were sheltered after their mom put them up for adoption. Gabriel was described as "a genius, but a loner" who loved rocks, minerals and insects.
The Hall Family
We heard from the Executive Director of the Children's Shelter of Cebu, Mitch Ohlendorf, who said there was nothing unusual about Karen and Wes Hall, the couple that adopted Gabriel and his siblings. The Halls distanced themselves from the orphanage following the adoption, even turning down a request for a donation. We'll hear from the Halls soon. The defense has said Gabriel's time in their home played a role in his misery as a teenager.
For the first time Linda Shaar, the widow of Edwin Shaar, Jr., was not at the courthouse today.
Testimony will pick back up at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Monday, September 14th.
Today was the beginning of the punishment phase for Gabriel Hall. He was convicted last Friday for the murder of Edwin Shaar, Jr. Here are five key developments from today.
Prosecutors were quick to remind the jury of the murder they say was planned for months in advance. The state wants Hall to be executed. The defense is asking the jury to consider his troubled childhood and give him life in prison with no chance of parole. Last week the defense said it would offer up an explanation not an excuse, for Hall's pain, fear and anger. They say his past is what paved the way to his crime.
Gabriel Hall has a heartbreaking childhood. He grew up in the slum in the Philippines with an abusive father who was often in jail. Hall was born premature, taken home in a shoe box and kept warm with a light bulb. Defense attorneys say he struggled to survive, grew up with little food and almost no shelter and slept on cardboard boxes. They said Hall would often "talk to" mice and insects just so he would have something/someone to interact with. Hall's mom put him and three siblings in an orphanage when he was six. Hall's half-sister testified today. She's one of several biological members of his family who are in town from the Philippines to testify.
The Hall Family
When Hall was 11, he and his siblings were adopted by Karen and Wes Hall from College Station. Gabriel's attorneys say the Hall home is a "home full of shame, solitude and secrets." After taking in the kids from the Philippines, the Hall home had a total of 19 kids. Defense attorneys say the Halls were abusive to their kids both mentally and physically. The family was described as "hoarders" who were accused of hoarding things, pets and people. The Hall family is expected to be called to the witness stand during this phase of the trial.
The day after the murder, Gabriel Hall went to his classes at A&M Consolidated High School and "aced" a test, according to one of his former teachers. Educators described him as a student who was good, intelligent and loved science. His student files indicated he did have attention problems.
More Murders Planned?
A former inmate of the Brazos County jail who testified on the stand today said Hall confessed to him a plan to Hall put together to kill Wes and Karen Hall, his adoptive parents. He went on to say Hall appeared to be "aroused" whenever he described the sound of the knife when cutting into the Shaar's skin. Police also described a bag with tools and knives that were found in Gabriel's bedroom after he was taken into custody. In the bag was half a machete and a disabled hacksaw. Two murder mystery books were also on a desk in Gabriel's room.
Friday, September 11th
Here are five key developments in the Gabriel Hall capital murder trial today.
The jury handed up its guilty verdict today. Gabriel Hall is now guilty of capital murder.
Closing Arguments - The Defense
In closing arguments today, the Defense gave us a preview of what to expect next week. Attorney Tony Odiorne told the jury "You'll hear more about Gabriel's life in the Philippines, his life in an orphanage before he was abandoned by his biological parents. What you'll hear is an explanation, not an excuse."
Closing Arguments - The State
District Attorney Jarvis Parsons asked the jury "How many 18-year-olds do you know sit there for months and plan the murder of helpless people? The issue is not Gabriel's age. The issue has been his... desire to slaughter innocent people."
It only took the jury three and a half hours to reach its decision to find Hall guilty. 90 minutes of that time was spent listening to Hall's confession to police the day after the murder.
Part two of this trial begins Monday morning at 9 a.m. Hall's biological and adoptive family are likely to be called as witnesses as defense attorneys tell us more about the 22-year-old's childhood. The punishment phase could take 2 - 3 weeks.
September 10, 2015
Here are five key developments that took place today inside the courtroom.
Both Sides Finished
The prosecution and the defense both today rested their case. The defense called no witnesses to the stand. The prosecution called 20 people to the stand in three days.
The widow of murder victim Edwin Shaar testified today and shared her side of the story to the jury. She recalls being in her home on the evening of October 20th, 2011 and suddenly hearing a noise coming from the garage. She knew her husband was fighting for his life, so she called 9-1-1 and that's when she says Gabriel Hall came into the kitchen and tried to kill her. "He had a real mad look on his face," she said. "Then I remember bleeding and I thought I was going to die and so I laid there and just acted like I was dead."
Gabriel Hall's Emotions
For the first time that we have seen in court, Gabriel Hall broke down in tears. He first became emotional during Linda Shaar's testimony. As Linda finished, Hall began to cry.
For most of the morning, the courtroom sounded a lot like a science class. Several forensic scientists and crime lab experts were on the stand explaining how DNA samples are collected from crime scenes and tested. We also heard how the casings found in the Shaar's home were tested to match the gun used during the crime. The jury was able to see the gun and knives used.
The official charge will be handed over to the jury on Friday morning around 10:00 a.m. That's when deliberations will begin. Following the verdict, if guilty, the punishment phase will begin. Hall could get life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
September 9, 2015:
An audio recording of Gabriel Hall's confession the day after Edwin Shaar, Jr. was murdered sheds some light on what may have motivated the high school student to unleash a deadly attack in 2011. Here's the five significant developments from day two of the capital murder trial:
1. The Confession
College Station detectives say Hall first denied having anything to do with the murder of Edwin Shaar, Jr. and the brutal attack the nearly claimed Linda Shaar's life. Hall, along with his adoptive father Wes Hall, voluntarily went to the police station the day after the homicide to speak with investigators. Two detectives were able to convince Gabriel to confess to the crime. The audio recording of that confession was played in court today.
2. The Perfect Place
Hall was asked several times during his confession why he chose the Shaar's home on Deacon Drive. Hall said he first noticed the home in 2010 and said it was "suitable" and he noticed it had "easy access." He told detectives he wasn't concerned about who lived in the home. He considered it to be the perfect place to carry out his attack. "I didn't care if they were young or old, healthy, sick," said Hall on the recording.
3. No Motive To Live
Hall told detectives he wanted to die and was "willing to kill for it." In the recording, detectives asked Hall, "So you're saying you want the death penalty? Why?" Hall said he had no motivation to live and was happier living in poverty in the Philippines than living in the United States with his adoptive family. "I guess this has built up. You could call it rage, but it didn't feel like rage to me. It's more of a killer instinct."
4. The Gun
Hall told detectives he found the gun in a grassy area next to a business on Rock Prairie Road and he practiced shooting it before the death of Edwin Shaar, Jr. He said he got the ammunition from his mother's office cabinet. Hall told investigators he ditched the gun and the knives in a pond at a park near the Shaar's home. Investigators did not find the weapons there.
5. Sticky Fingers
Prior to being arrested for the murder, Gabriel Hall was fingerprinted at the College Station Police Department, but a witness on the stand today said it was impossible to get Hall's fingerprints because he put super glue on his hands before his visit with investigators. After discovering this at the police station, Hall's adoptive father, Wes Hall, begins to question Gabriel along with detectives about his story.
September 8, 2015:
Day one of the capital murder trial of Gabriel Hall has wrapped up and things are off to a fast start.
Hall is accused of breaking into a College Station home on October 20th, 2011 and murdering Edwin Shaar, Jr. He's also accused of stabbing Shaar's wife, Linda, who survived the attack.
Here's five significant developments from day one:
1. The Jury Is Seated
Murder suspect Gabriel Hall for the first time met the twelve jurors and two alternates who will eventually decide his fate. The jury and alternates are five men and nine women. The jurors were given their instructions Tuesday from District Judge Bryan Travis, III and the media was told jurors could not be photographed at any time during the trial.
2. The Witnesses
Prosecutors called ten people to the stand Tuesday to testify in the trial. Among those on the stand where the first responding College Station police officers, the former Chief Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy on Edwin Shaar, Jr., a neighbor of the Shaars who was inside the home less than an hour prior to the attack and the man who first told police Gabriel Hall may be a potential suspect in the attack.
3. Linda Shaar
The victim's wife, Linda, survived the attack. She was in a wheelchair when it happened and today she was at the courthouse and surrounded by family and friends. Prosecutors say Linda will testify, but it'll happen towards the end of the trial. The widow did leave the court when autopsy photos of her husband were on display during testimony.
4. The Confession
Prosecutors told the jury that Gabriel Hall confessed after his arrest to killing Edwin Shaar, Jr. and stabbing his wife, Linda. They say Hall put super glue on his hands to mask his fingerprints. Hall was arrested less than 24 hours after the crime. Prosecutors say during the confession, Hall told police during the murder he "did it with a smile on his face and enjoyed it."
5. The Motive
We still don't know exactly why Hall allegedly committed the murders, and defense attorneys told they jury they won't deny it was Hall who did it. They did say there's more to story and offered hints that there was anger and sadness building inside Hall prior to the invasion of the Shaar's home. We know he had a difficult time growing up in the Philippines and was dropped off at an orphanage by his biological mother at the age of six. When he was 11 he and a couple of siblings were adopted by a local couple and brought to the United States. Prosecutors said in court Tuesday that Hall randomly chose the Shaar's home as a target months before the attack and he would often stake out the home to watch the elderly couple. Prosecutors told the jury that Hall practiced shooting his gun prior to the murder and following the attack they found a "kill bag" that belonged to Hall. There has been previous reports of a hit-list that Hall created, but it was not mentioned in the opening statements of the trial.
September 7, 2015:
Hall is accused of breaking into a College Station home on October 20th, 2011 and murdering Edwin Shaar, Jr. He's also accused of stabbing Shaar's wife, Linda, who survived the attack.
Police say Shaar had been shot and stabbed and was found in the garage of his home on Deacon Drive.
The 68-year-old's wife, Linda, was also attack with a knife and suffered a serious wound to the neck. She was able to call 9-1-1 during the attack.
Linda, who was 69 when she was attacked, was also in a wheelchair.
A jogger in a nearby park told police he saw Hall in the area at the time of the murder.
Hall, who was 18-years old at the time and a student at A&M Consolidated High School, was questioned by investigators and later arrested and charged for the crime.
A conviction on a capital murder charge would send Hall to death row or he'll spend life in prison with no chance of parole.
Shaars was a retired oceanography professor at Texas A&M and a Navy fighter pilot during the Vietnam era.
College Station police say after Hall was arrested he confessed to the crime, but a specific motive has yet to be publicly revealed.
Hall also had a so-called Hit List with several of his adoptive family members on it, according to a detective who testified in court in 2011.
Hall was adopted from his home in the Philippines by local attorney Wes Hall and his wife Karen who is President of the Central Texas Orphan Mission Alliance.
It was presented in court that Hall had allegedly selected the Shaar's home as a target two months before the attack because he thought it was a good location to do surveillance. Hall did not personally know the Shaars.
According to investigators, the evidence in the case includes a 9 mm handgun and three knives.
The case has been delayed several times for various reasons.
One of the more memorable hearings in the last four years was a day in June when Hall apparently fell asleep in the courtroom as attorneys were discussing the jury selection.
The jury of 12 people and two alternates were seated last week and the opening statements are set to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the courtroom of Judge Travis Bryan, III.