The Maryland resident who shot and killed a man at a holiday party has been cleared of murder, with a grand jury determining he acted in self-defense and out of fear for his family.
A grand jury declined to indict Francisco A. Trujillo in the killing of Mario Alberto Perez, the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office announced Friday afternoon.
Trujillo, 35, said he shot and killed Perez, 40, early the morning of Dec. 21 after Perez threatened Trujillo inside his own home in Damascus, Maryland.
"It was a surreal, tragic experience," Trujillo told News4 on Friday.
The construction executive was hosting a small holiday gathering on the 24600 block of Ridge Road just days before Christmas when his acquaintance drunkenly started an argument with him, he said. Perez threatened to kill Trujillo, his wife and his children, who are 8 and 4 years old and were home at the time.
"It was just beyond belief to have somebody in your home yelling at the top of their lungs that they're going to kill you," Trujillo said. "I was standing next to my son's bedroom's door, with my wife trying to call the police."
Trujillo grabbed a gun and shot Perez once in the chest, Trujillo's lawyer, Barry Helfand said. He then put down the gun and remained in the home as sirens approached.
Perez was unarmed, but Trujillo knew he was a deadly and an immediate threat, Helfand said.
"We knew he was dealing with a martial arts expert who, if he got close enough, could take the weapon away and do whatever damage he wanted -- physically harm him, kill him and his family," he said.
Trujillo was charged with murder and jailed until a judge allowed him to be released on bond a week later.
The grand jury's refusal to indict Trujillo means he can go on with his life, which he said will forever carry the marks of what happened Dec. 21.
"I wish it didn't happen. I wish there were another way it could have happened. I wish he had given me another choice. I wish he would have tried to listen to reason when he was in his condition," Trujillo said.
Perez was determined to have a blood alcohol content of between 0.22 and 0.28, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office said.
"He is a much larger man in stature and had the know how and capability to inflict severe bodily harm, if not death, upon the host of the holiday party and his family," the spokesman said.
The state's attorney will not pursue further charges, he said.
Attempts to reach Perez' family were not successful.