Trial begins in the death of beloved Austin music teacher


More than three years after a beloved Austin music teacher was killed inside her home, the man charged in her death heads to court for trial.

Kathy Blair, a choir teacher with the Christian Choral Society of Austin, was found dead inside her home in December 2014. Since then, the court date for the man accused of killing her during a burglary has been pushed back multiple times.

Austin police say Shawn Gant-Benalcazar, 33, entered Blair’s home while she was asleep and tried to rob the place. According to court documents, Gant-Benalcazar told police he stabbed Blair in the neck when she woke up and “lunged” at him.

Authorities also arrested and charged Timothy Parlin, 51, in connection with the burglary leading up to Blair’s death as well as two other murders days after Blair died. He is being tried at a later date.

The two suspects have been in the Travis County Jail awaiting trials for their charges for three years. KXAN has been told that DNA testing and retesting was a majority of the reason for the delay.

“It puts the preparation on hold. Neither the prosecution nor the defense can really move forward until the DNA results show,” retired Judge Charlie Baird says.

Meanwhile, former students of the Christian Choral Society of Austin where Blair taught have been waiting for closure.

“I’ve been very sad about the delays, justice delayed is justice denied,” says Thomas Umstattd, a former student of Kathy Blair. “And in many ways, I don’t feel like we have closure until there is a trial. It’s really hard to find out what really happened without a trial.”

Opening statements begin at the Travis County Criminal Justice Complex at 9 a.m. Thursday.

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