No fingerprints, no DNA and no videotape link Alfredo Gomez to a drug sting that turned into a deadly daylight shoot-out in November 2011.
The 21-year-old has been set up, his attorneys said Wednesday during opening statements of Gomez's capital murder trial.
Prosecutors contend Gomez was in the middle of the chaotic gunbattle that ended with an informant's death, but escaped in all the confusion.
"This is an old-fashioned frame-up," defense attorney Dan Gerson told jurors about four co-defendants in the case. "These people have succeeded in pointing the finger at Alfredo Gomez."
Gomez is the first suspect to go to trial in a bloody shootout that started about 2 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2011.
"All hell broke loose," Assistant Harris County District Attorney Lauren Byrne said of the gunbattle. "This went from what was supposed to be a drug deal and turned into a robbery."
Police informant Lawrence Chapa, 53, was driving a tractor-trailer loaded with marijuana from the border to the site of the sale, while being followed by Drug Enforcement Administration agents poised to arrest the buyers.
The 18-wheeler Chapa was driving was stopped in northwest Harris County by three SUVs full of Zetas cartel gunmen who opened fire, according to investigators.
In the chaos, Chapa was killed and a Houston police officer shot an undercover Harris County Sheriff's deputy in the leg.
A false alibi?
Four men were arrested at the scene, but Gomez escaped and was later implicated in the shooting, Byrne said, "after running his mouth."
She said she expects several witnesses to testify that Gomez told them he was one of the gunmen and that the alibi he originally gave authorities was false.
Defense attorney Casey Keirnan said Gomez's alibi will hold up and that he was not involved.
Keirnan said four other men, who were caught at the scene, decided while they were in a holding cell together to pin the entire thing on Gomez in an attempt to cut a deal.
Shot 8 times
Prosecutors say there is evidence that at least two shooters fired fatal shots, and Gomez was one of them.
Chapa died after being shot eight times by at least two different gunmen.
Gomez faces an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder.
The trial, in visiting Judge Terry Flenniken's court, is expected to last about a week.