HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Nearly three years after a Hays County man was murdered, the trial for one of the suspects started on Wednesday.
Brandon Fontenette, 36, died in 2018 after being shot several times with an air gun and then stabbed. Mark James Stevens, 38 at the time, faces a first-degree murder charge in Hays County for his death.
According to court testimony, Fontenette was found dead on the bathroom floor inside Stevens’ home in Buda. New testimony also revealed Fontenette was stabbed in his back through two of his ribs and lung.
On Wednesday, Stevens pleaded not guilty to murder and tampering with evidence charges.
During the first day of Stevens’ trial, prosecutors said he called his brother for help getting rid of a body. They said his brother then called their father, who called police for a welfare check, saying Stevens had gotten into a fight.
Deputy Daisy Trevino with the Hays County Sherriff’s Office was one of the first to the scene, and she testified Wednesday that Stevens’ wife, Jeanette, answered the door. Trevino noted Jeanette’s shirt was inside out and said she closed the door to get Steven.
“[Another officer and I] were both outside waiting for [Jeanette] to come back, and we heard a loud scream,” Trevino said.
Trevino said they knocked again, and that’s when Stevens came to the door.
“He looked confused, he kept touching his head, he was shaking, I could see he was breathing heavily,” Trevino said. “He kept looking back at his wife.”
Trevino said Stevens appeared to have a gash on his head. She also recalled Stevens then reaching for a pair of his own handcuffs on a coat hanger next to the front door, cuffing himself, and pointing toward the back of the home.
Bodycam video from Trevino showed when officers asked who was back there, Stevens responded, “the guy who attacked me.”
When Trevino made her way down the hall and into the master bedroom, she said there was blood everywhere. And she also noticed the door frame and a lock were broken.
“When the door opened, I saw a pillow that had blood on it,” Trevino said. “There were like, bedsheets on the ground, and there was just blood all over.”
Then she found Fontenette.
“I saw a male laying on his back. It appeared as if his legs were under him, and there was a pool of blood under him,” Trevino said.
A handful of witnesses were called to testify, including another responding Hays County deputy, a Hays County firefighter paramedic, Travis County medical examiner, crime scene investigator and a close friend of Fontenette.
The court reviewed nearly 40 minutes of Trevino’s body camera video.
Courtroom guests and the jury fell silent as they watched the moment officers found Fontenette in a pool of blood.
“Was just trying to mentally prepare myself for what was on those videos,” Fontenette’s father, Kerry Fontenette said. “Seeing my son’s body is just mind-blowing.”
Chistopher Uhlader, a firefighter paramedic with the Buda Fire Department, said he could tell Fontenette had been dead for a while when he was found.
Other first responders who testified made the same observation, saying the blood began to dry.
Court testimony described a baggy was found in the kitchen with Fontenette’s wallet and ID inside, as well as his phone next to the baggy.
Fontenette said it doesn’t feel like he lost his son just three years ago. He told KXAN reliving this tragedy in court makes it feel like it was just yesterday.
“Brandon was good people, loving people, that’s how he was raised,” Kerry said. “He had two beautiful sons, twin boys. Just a wonderful guy. Just can’t believe it happened to him… with these things being presented to us today, it’s hard not to be angry all over again.”
Stevens’ attorney and wife declined to comment.
Jeanette is facing the same charges as Stevens, but she’s been out on a $50,000 bond for about two years, according to the Hays County District Attorney. Her trial is scheduled to begin at the end of July.