HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The punishment phase of Ronald Haskell's murder trial is now underway.
During the trial, we heard a lot about the crime and how Haskell carried out killing six of his in-laws. Now that he's found guilty, the state is seeking the death penalty, and we're hearing more about who these six people were and the pain left in their absence.
Through tears, Aurielle Lyon is telling jurors how her sister Katie Stay was a dedicated wife to her husband Stephen Stay and an amazing mom to her five children. In fact, 7 year old Rebecca Stay's schoolwork was shown. On the paper she lists one of her favorite things to do, to "color with mommy".
"Now you're going to get an opportunity to hear about those children and the terror he inflicted on the kids that day," explains Prosecutor Samantha Knecht.
As a legal tactic Ronald Haskell is only charged with murdering his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Katie and Stephen, but he actually shot all seven members of the family including 13-year-old Bryan, 9-year-old Emily, Rebecca who was 7, and Zach who was only 4. Bryan and Emily were special needs children.
Because of the way Haskell was charged we haven't heard much about the kids, until now.
The children's grandfather, Stephen's dad Thomas Stay, took the stand wearing his son's tie and carrying pain so obvious a couple of jurors wiped tears.
"What a hole this has left in this family," Knecht adds.
Stephen's brother Roger Stay and his best friend since childhood Josef Kristjanson also testified, talking about what an honorable husband and father he was. A gentle man who once raised and sold snails.
Haskell barged into the Stay's home in 2014 and shot the entire family after Haskell's wife, Katie's sister, divorced him. 15-year-old Cassidy, the lone survivor is expected to testify again as the state seeks the death penalty.
"You don't just go back and take a vote: who votes in favor of the death penalty and who votes against it. That's not the way it works in Texas," says Knecht.
"You just don't sentence someone to death. You have to answer the special questions," Haskell's Attorney Neal Davis III told jurors.
The two question jurors must answer: Is he a future danger? Also, when considering Haskell's offense, character and background, such as the defense's claim that he's mentally ill, should he spend life in prison without parole rather than death?
"He's a manipulator. He's a con artist, and he's a future danger" says Knecht.
"The question is while he's there [in prison] will he commit violent acts? Manipulation is not a violent act. Being a jerk is not a violent act," Davis countered.
Haskell's friends and family will also testify about the person he was "before he declined, descended into this abyss of hatred and violence driven by his mental illness," says Davis.
The Medical Examiner also testified, telling jurors exactly what happened to the bullet and each child after they were shot in the head. Their autopsy photos were also shown in court.
Testimony in the punishment phase is expected to last about two weeks.
This is the first death penalty case in Harris County since District Attorney Kim Ogg took office.