Spring, Texas – Five years after opening fire on Katie and Stephen Stay and their four children, Ronald Haskell, Jr. is on trial for one count of capital murder.
The accused man drove from Utah to Texas and broke into the Stay’s home in the Enchanted Oaks Subdivision where he held the family at gunpoint.
Haskell has admitted to opening fire on all seven members of the Stay family and killing six. The Stay family’s 15-year-old daughter, Cassidy, survived a bullet wound to the head. However, defense attorneys are claiming insanity in Haskell’s defense.
Defense attorneys say Haskell has a history of mental illness and couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong.
The first piece of evidence displayed was the 911 call placed by Cassidy. On the call, jurors could hear Cassidy tell operators that her whole family had been shot. She continues telling operators that her uncle Ronnie is responsible.
Cassidy’s 911 call was credited with saving lives, as she alerted authorities that Haskell was on his way to her grandparents home to kill more family members.
Prosecutors on the case are working to convince jury members that Haskell’s murder spree was premeditated and prompted by revenge.
According to court records, Haskell plotted the murder because his in-laws helped his wife leave him. Katie Stay was Melanie’s sister.
“The credible evidence will show you that this was not a case about someone who was insane,” said Samantha Knecht, a prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. “This, rather, was a plan that was created in anger and fueled by vengeance.”
Katie was shot in the face when she jumped at the defendant. The others were tied up and shot execution-style, according to prosecutors.
“He was mad,” said Knecht. “He was angry. He had lost control and he didn’t like it. He vowed he was going to hurt anyone that helped Melanie.”
According to the defense attorney, Haskell suffered from hallucinations and had two male voices in his head that told him to kill the Stay family.
“When you start comparing details of this plan, you’ll see it’s not rational. It’s psychotic, and it’ll bear out in our case,” said Doug Durham, Haskell’s defense attorney.
Deputies were able to arrest Haskell outside the home of his wife’s parents. No one else was harmed.
The trial is expected to last two months. If convicted, Haskell faces the death penalty.