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Witness points finger at suspect on the lam in slaying trial
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Hector Alejandro Bautista confers with attorney Dan Sammons Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018 in Hall County Superior Court on day one of Bautista's murder trial. Bautista is charged with malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault in the shooting death of Daniel Cornejo of Gainesville on West Avenue in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

Laura Rivas testified Wednesday about seeing Daniel Cornejo face down on the cement outside of their West Avenue apartment in November 2014.

“When I approached him, I obviously got down on my knees to try to help him,” Rivas said of Cornejo, the father of two of her children.

Cornejo, 21, of Gainesville was found Nov. 19, 2014, by Gainesville Police with a gunshot wound. He later succumbed to his injuries at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Hector Alejandro Bautista, of Gainesville, was charged with malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault in July by a grand jury. David Olivas, of Doraville, was also charged in the indictment, but he has not been captured.

Bautista was wanted on a felony murder warrant and was extradited in June from Mexico, according to police.

In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Bill Akins said the charges would be based on evidence that Cornejo “was being pistol whipped with a firearm when the gun went off.”

In a brief opening statement, defenese attorney Dan Sammons said the state would not be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Much of the morning centered around finding Grecia Diaz, a witness who was previously romantically involved with Bautista. After Diaz did not show up to court, deputies were dispatched to retrieve her.

Bautista was with Diaz on Nov. 19, 2014, and they picked up Olivas.

Akins said there had been a dispute days earlier regarding a tattoo gun.

“David Olivas was upset about something, and the decision was made to drive over to Daniel’s home,” Akins said.

When they arrived in the neighborhood, Diaz said she stayed behind while Bautista and Olivas went to Cornejo’s apartment, saying she heard fighting and later a gunshot.

Diaz testified that Bautista told her that Olivas shot Cornejo.

“Did Hector Bautista indicate whether he had also hit (Cornejo)?” Akins asked

“No,” Diaz said.

“Punched him?” Akins asked.

“No,” Diaz said.

Laura Rivas said she was carrying Cornejo’s second child at the time of his death. Rivas said she knew Bautista as a neighbor and friend of her brother, Jose Rivas.

Jose Rivas testified he heard the gunshot and recognized Bautista through a window.

Sammons cross-examined Jose Rivas about his written statement, which didn’t include any mention of seeing someone running away from the scene.

Sammons did not cross-examine Laura Rivas nor Diaz.

The case will continue at 9 a.m. today in Hall County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Oliver’s courtroom. 

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