Opening arguments began in a trial where Smith County prosecutors are setting out to prove the target of a monthlong, multiagency drug investigation was the man who shot at a Smith County deputy in March 2016 while riding in the passenger seat of a car that was fleeing from law enforcement.
"This is an important case of great magnitude," Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said Tuesday in the trial of Ricardo Martinez Pineda. "This is a chance for the deputies to know that what they do matters."
Pineda, 33, faces two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant, a first-degree felony. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
Bingham told the jurors the timeline of events that began with a joint law enforcement effort to conduct surveillance of Pineda and several others at a campground. He explained how Pineda and the others got into two different vehicles and left the campground.
He explained why the deputies followed Pineda and the other suspects until they had probable cause to conduct a traffic stop.
Bingham said he would show how after shooting at the deputy, and disabling his car, Pineda and two others were able to get away and avoid arrest that night.
The opening statement ended with Bingham describing how Pineda spent the rest of the night on March 21, 2016, and how he fled the area to Arkansas where he was arrested two weeks later and extradited back to Smith County.
The jury heard testimony from a local gun store owner, detectives who conducted surveillance on the suspects and from Jeremy Robinson, a co-defendant in the case.
Prosecutors showed dashcamera footage of the pursuit and shooting to the jury while questioning Robinson. Robinson said he was driving about 90 to 100 miles per hour that night and they were getting away from the deputy by shooting at him.
Robinson was arrested the day after the shooting at a local hotel, where a reserve deputy constable who worked at the hotel recognized his car. Robinson is awaiting trial for his role in the incident.
Court will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.