Expert: Montpelier murder trial's outcome hinges on motive

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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) Lawyers for murder suspect Jayveon Caballero hope to convince a jury the 2017 shooting of Markus Austin was not intentional.

Jayveon Caballero

In day two of the murder trial in Barre, prosecutors said Caballero intentionally killed Austin because Austin had punched Caballero's girlfriend outside a bar in Barre earlier that night. Caballero's lawyers don't deny he pulled the trigger, but say he didn't mean to the former semi-pro basketball player,

WCAX Legal expert Jerry O'Neill says if the jury believes the prosecutor, it's murder. If they believe the defense, it's a lesser conviction, like manslaughter.

"I think the biggest challenge is the fact that there was a pre-existing disagreement amongst them. He goes there and he waits for him. He's got this argument with him, he's got this anger as it relates to him. So, is a jury really going to believe that the shot was only intended to frighten him? Or is it going to believe that the shot didn't actually hit him, but that's what he intended. And if that's what his intent was, then it's first-degree murder," O'Neil said.

A first degree murder conviction could mean life in prison, while a manslaughter conviction means no more than 15 years behind bars. The case is expected to go to the jury sometime next week.