Miguel Navarro had never been to a party with his brother before.
It was 2007, a few days after Christmas in Katy, Texas. That night, his girlfriend asked him to hang out with her, but Miguel wanted to hang out with his brother. He was 15 years old and his older brother Lupe Salazar, 17 at the time, remembers the moment vividly.
“I remember, he opened the door and was smiling and was like ‘What’s up dude?’” Salazar says. “I was rushing out the room, and he was like ‘Where are you going?’ Then I told him, ‘I’m going’ and he said ‘Take me with you.’
“I told him no, but my girlfriend at the time – she was the one who pumped me up about taking him with me – she said, ‘He’s a cool kid, maybe he’ll have fun.’”
Salazar told him to hurry up and Navarro ran back to his room to change. “I was ready to leave,” Salazar says. “I’m waiting in the car, I’m beeping telling him to hurry up and he’s running out the door.”
When they arrived, Salazar found that the party was made up of older kids, many of them college-age. They were doing what college kids do: dancing, drinking, drugs. Salazar invited some more friends and when they arrived, things took a turn.
“I guess we weren’t wanted at one point. We didn’t even make it to the driveway,” Salazar says. “Beer bottles flew in our direction and I was hearing tons of cuss words: ‘F-ing Mexicans, F-ing this, F-ing that.’ Off in the corner of my eye, I saw people with golf clubs and bats. And that’s when a big brawl ended up happening.”
Salazar says he tried to gather up his friends and leave. But it was too late – by then, a group of guys had surrounded him and started beating him.
“I felt that I was alone at one point,” he says. “I had six or seven guys on top of me, and then I heard that somebody had gotten stabbed.”
The police arrived. Salazar couldn’t find his friends or his brother, but soon he heard the news: three people had been stabbed. One of them was dead. And they knew who had done it – his little brother Miguel.
When Navarro went to help his older brother, he says he pulled a out a knife. In the chaos, he stabbed Matthew Haltom.
“I did reach for my knife and I did it. I regret it, but I did it,” Navarro says. “He got on top of me and was swinging. I don’t know the man, never met him before. It happened. I stabbed him.”
Navarro says other people jumped on top of him and he stabbed two of them also. Navarro spotted some friends of his brother in a car ready to drive off and got into the car with them. He had blood on his shoes.
Because it was dark and the street was crowded, few people had a clear perspective on what actually happened. For the most part, eyewitness testimony of the dozens of partygoers at the scene described a similar timeline: a party got out of hand, things got heated, Haltom and two others got stabbed.
One of the victims was treated by paramedics. Another victim, 21-year-old Joe Eodice, was in the hospital for about a week recovering from his injuries. Haltom, 20, died at the scene.