Morales Murder Charge Dropped

Newschannel 6 is digging deeper into a Wichita Falls homicide. It was ruled a murder in July, but today we learned the man accused of killing his brother is in jail on a much lesser charge.

According to the affidavit obtained by Newschannel 6, Paul Morales shot and killed his brother. In the affidavit Morales told police he was driving in his car with his two brothers. His brother Manuel was in the backseat. Morales said there was an argument, and that Manuel cut his head with a knife. In the affidavit, Morales said he stopped the car, got out and then went in his home in the 1600 Block of Star Vista. He claims he then, quote, "blacked out." In the paperwork police said witnesses told officers they saw Morales get a gun, and then seconds later heard one gun shot.

Prosecutors say the case went in front of the Wichita County Grand Jury in October, and members could have decided this case fell under the Castle Doctrine. Castle Doctrine gives a person the right to use deadly force in their home or in their vehicle. What could make this an unprecedented case is Paul Morales is a felon, and by law he was not legally allowed to have a gun.

Wichita County Chief Felony Prosecutor John Gillespie with the D.A.'s office told Newschannel 6 that Grand Jury deliberations are secret. He could not comment on the specifics of this case, but he did spend time with us as we dug into the Castle Doctrine and how it relates to the Morales case.

"I know as Texans we have a long history and strong belief in the right to defend ourselves, and homes and loved ones," Gillespie said. "That is what legislation had in mind when they adopted the Castle Doctrine. For the prosecution the issue we have is, is it a valid exercise of self defense or is it something else going on? That's always the burden of the D.A. and the Grand Jury anytime the doctrine is raised."

However, the law states for the Castle Doctrine to apply: a person cannot provoke an attacker and cannot be involved in criminal activity. Because it was a crime for Morales to have and use a firearm because he is a felon, we wanted to know why the murder charge was dropped.

Gillespie said no matter who you are, if you're life is in danger, you have the right to get a weapon and defend your life. He feels that part in the law refers to someone who is engaging in criminal activity or enterprise. That means a drug dealer or gang member involved in a deadly crime could not claim self defense.

In the Morales case Newschannel 6 learned if the Grand Jury did feel the Castle Doctrine applied it would be the burden of prosecutors to prove that Morales maliciously murdered his brother, and did not act in self defense. That could have played a big part in the Grand Jury's decision.

Paul Morales now faces an indictment for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. The charge is a 3rd degree felony punishable up to 10 years in prison. The case is pending trial, but no dates have been set.

Ashley Fitzwater, Newschannel 6