Verdict delivered for teen who gunned down Iraq war veteran at bus stop

David Zuniga appears in court to her the verdict of his trial for the murder of Army veteran Jesse Richards. (Screenshot from video below)

Swift justice is being served in the murder trial for Army veteran Jesse Richards, 26, of San Antonio, Tx.

The jury deliberated for just 15 minutes and found David Zuniga guilty of murder Wednesday afternoon, according to ABC 12.

Murder victim Richards got off a city bus after working at the Texas Road House off Southeast Military Drive in San Antonio, according to the local NBC affiliate, and was waiting at a bus stop at roughly 10 p.m. Dec. 20, according to police.

Police said two men approached Richards, an Iraq war veteran, when he was then shot once in the chest while waiting for the bus.

“He had a box of food in his hand and he was headed home. That’s what makes this all the more disturbing that someone could just be sitting there waiting for the bus, and have somebody approach and shoot them,” said Jesse Salame with the San Antonio Police Department.

The trial of David Zuniga, 18, took a surprising turn Wednesday when Zuniga’s brother, Juan Torres, 19, testified that his oldest brother, Daniel Torres, 21, killed Richards.

Daniel Torres has also been charged with Richards’ murder and is awaiting trial.

Both men are criminally responsible for the murder, according to the law of parties, prosecutors said.

Torres testified that he watched from a distance as his brothers confronted Richards.

“Daniel came from the gateway, where I can’t see, and he runs and pulls, pulls it from his jacket and fires,” Torres testified.

Police at the time said Zuniga and his older brother planned to rob Richards before he was shot in the chest. The first suspect in the case, Daniel Torres, was arrested a couple months after Richards’ death. Court papers stated Torres killed Richards, then stood across the street and watched investigators process the crime scene.

Zuniga faces up to life in prison for Richards’ death. The punishment phase is set to begin today, according to reports on Fox29, San Antonio.

According to an online memorial, Richards was born on Feb. 11, 1987, in Geneva, Nebraska. In Aug. 2005, Richards joined the United States Army.

After basic training, Richards was stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. While stationed there, he was deployed to Iraq for more than a year. After returning to Hawaii, Richards transferred to Fort Riley Kansas. While there, he was deployed to Iraq two more times for a total of three and half years. He was discharged from the Army in Sept. of 2012.

At the time of his death, Richards was working at Texas Roadhouse and pursuing an education in computer networking at Austin Community College.

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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