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Man recounts finding slain mother-in-law in Garland home on 1st day of murder trial

Kvaughandre Lapaul Presley, 21, is charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of Patricia Eifert.

Kvaughandre Lapaul Presley

Kvaughandre Lapaul Presley enters the courtroom Tuesday during his trial for capital murder in the slaying of 60-year-old Patricia Eifert.(Shafkat Anowar / Staff Photographer)

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Joseph Bryant pumped on his mother-in-law’s chest for minutes.

“Come on, Mom. Wake up, Mom,” he cried.

“One, two, three, four,” he repeated to steady his chest compressions. At times, he counted in unison with a 911 operator on the phone.

His mother-in-law, Patricia Eifert, had been shot inside the home Bryant and his wife just bought in Garland. Her body was found lying among cardboard moving boxes and plastic totes.

Kvaughandre Lapaul Presley, 21, is charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of Eifert during what prosecutors allege was a botched burglary. Testimony in his trial began Tuesday in a Dallas County courtroom.

If convicted, Presley faces an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

Bryant came home just before 7 p.m. on July 27, 2021, to find Eifert sprawled on the living-room floor, face up, covered in blood. He called his wife, Eifert’s daughter, Annie Bryant, and then 911.

“Panic is the only word that comes to mind,” Bryant told jurors of his mental state when he called authorities. Bryant pressed his palms to his face multiple times throughout his testimony.

Eifert’s family wept from the gallery as the minutes-long 911 call played inside the courtroom.

Bryant described Eifert, who lived in Jasper and worked for the Texas Department of Transportation, as handy and ahead of her male-dominated industry. Jubilant pictures of the 60-year-old, who had short white hair, were displayed in the courtroom.

Prosecutor Hilary Wright

Prosecutor Hilary Wright points towards a family photo of slain 60-year-old Jasper resident Patricia Eifert.(Shafkat Anowar / Staff Photographer)

“There was nothing that woman could not do,” Bryant said.

Eifert was alone at the couple’s new home in the 700 block of Briar Way, fixing broken drawers in the master bathroom, at the time of the shooting, Bryant testified. The garage door was open, surveillance video from a neighboring house showed.

Prosecutors said Presley and his girlfriend, Gabriela Liliana Torres, 22, burglarized the Bryants’ home, slipping in through the garage. Bryant told jurors Eifert’s gun — which she called “Siggy” and always had on her — her wallet, tools, his wife’s briefcase and a game console case and video games were missing.

Torres also is charged with capital murder. Her case is pending, according to court records.

The surveillance video from across the alley, facing the home’s garage, showed a person get out of a black sedan and go inside the open garage. The car then reversed down the alley before a second person approached the home.

Minutes later, a person ran from the garage to the sedan, pulled the car into the home’s driveway and opened the door of a silver sedan, which Bryant testified belonged to Eifert. The person rummaged through Eifert’s car before the pair got into the black sedan and drove away, the footage showed.

Front-door camera footage from another home in the neighborhood captured loud pops, which a Garland police officer testified were gunshots.

Two Garland forensic investigators said at least eight shell casings, seven bullets and several bullet fragments were found in the home, as well as Eifert’s empty gun holster.

In opening statements, prosecutor Hilary Wright alleged Presley was inside the home for more than six minutes. She said his fingerprints were found at the crime scene.

Heath Harris, Presley’s attorney, said there is “no evidence he was inside the home,” however. Harris, while questioning one of the forensic investigators, said that while Presley’s fingerprints were found on the interior garage door, they were not found anywhere else in the house.

Presley, wearing a blue surgical mask, olive green jacket and navy tie, sat stoically through the first day of testimony. At times he took notes or leaned over to talk to his lawyer.

As he was ushered out of the courtroom by the bailiff at the end of the day, he waved at family. One person whispered back, “I love you.”

The trial is set to continue Wednesday morning.

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