KILLEEN, Texas — More than a year after Killeen resident and Vietnam veteran John Wesley Seth Jr., 80, was shot to death by his neighbor, there has been a conviction.
Santiago Vasquez was found guilty of murder Friday.
Vasquez shot and killed Seth in May 2017. According to an arrest affidavit, a witness said Vasquez was yelling at Seth, hit Seth with a cane and pushed him to the ground before shooting him three times.
Seth’s family members said he filed dozens of police reports against Vasquez over the years that they lived next to each other. The reports claimed Vasquez harassed him and even broke the windows at his house. Seth’s family said not much was done about the feud.
Vasquez was arrested and charged with murder.
A jury deliberated for close to four hours before finding Vasquez guilty.
Seth's son Michael Coleman said on Friday he felt sorry for Vasquez's family, but he was happy to finally have closure.
"It's going to help a lot because now we know that he's not going to be able to hurt anyone else," Coleman said. "It hurts to see his family like that and us like this but at the same time, when you do something you have to pay the cost for it."
A woman who saw the shooting strengthened the state's case with her testimony. She said she felt telling her story was something she needed to do.
"If it was my family, I'd want the same for me," the witness said. "They got justice. They got closure. I got closure."
Assistant District Attorney Anne Jackson tried the case and said she was glad to see the family finally able to start the healing process.
"It's been a long time for the family to wait and same for me as a prosecutor," Jackson said. "Because the case and the work sits in my office, and you're just waiting for the day you get to tell the story. It was an honor to get to tell Mr. Seth's story in this courtroom."
Seth's family members said they were thankful for the DA office's help during the emotional journey.
They also hope it serves as a lesson to the community: Violence is not the answer.
"No family wins," Coleman said. "But if you're having problems out of a neighbor and you feel you can't correct it, go to the nearest police office or whatever and get help because this could've been avoided."
Vasquez is expected back in court on July 11 for the start of the sentencing phase.
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