A woman charged with the second-degree murder of her boyfriend said in a police interview video that the shooting was accidental.
Prosecutors played the video Wednesday at the Riley County Courthouse during a jury trial for 22-year-old Gregoria Elizabeth Baez. Baez initially was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors began to lay out its case Wednesday that she was so reckless with the gun that she required a more severe charge.
The defense has not begun making its case as of press time Wednesday.
Baez is accused of shooting and killing 21-year-old Felix Florez of Manhattan on Sept. 22, 2018, at 1420 Vista Lane. Florez was a Geary County correctional officer who was off duty.
In the video, Baez told Riley County Police Detective Sam Shubert that she and Florez had been dating for about three years. She said the night of Sept. 22, they were in the bedroom of their shared home, and Florez said he was going to play a video game. Baez said she teased him about it, and he unholstered his gun and pointed it at her, saying, “What did you say?” in a joking manner.
Baez said they had joked like this before, and she thought to grab her gun from the nightstand. Baez said she wasn’t sure what happened — whether she might have jerked and disengaged the safety, for example — but the gun fired and wounded Florez in the face.
Baez told Shubert she wasn’t “too familiar with guns” and didn’t have a lot of experience shooting that particular handgun.
“I had no intentions to shoot him; we were joking,” she said.
Baez said she then called 911.
Shubert noted that Baez was “extremely upset” immediately after the incident.
Emergency responders took Florez to Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan and then flew him to Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka, where he later died.
Alan Riniker, a crime scene investigator with RCPD, testified Wednesday that the gun used in the incident had a spring-loaded or “grip” safety, which can be disengaged by pressing down on a lever on the handle.
Riniker said he also collected another gun, clothing from both Baez and Florez, a bullet casing found in the bedroom, a bullet collected from Florez during the autopsy, and general DNA and gunshot residue swabs from Baez as evidence.
Gregorio Florez, Felix’s father, a former member of the military, testified that he had been the primary person to teach Felix about guns and gun safety, and that he had further training while he worked for the Texas Department of Corrections.
Florez said Felix was experienced with guns and that he had never seen his son point a gun at another person. He said he purchased a gun for his son in July 2018, and Felix told him he would give it to Baez.
Florez said he sometimes saw Felix jokingly unholster his gun outside of a work environment and ask people, “What did you say?” and then re-holster it.
Florez also said that after Felix’s death, he looked at images on Baez’s Instagram account and saw photos and videos of Baez firing guns. He said he could see Felix’s car in the background in some of them and assumed the two went to firing ranges together.
Florez said he and his wife later spoke to Baez at their son’s funeral. He said she told them that the incident was an accident, and it was the first time she had ever done something like that.
The trial was expected to continue Thursday.