Defense attorneys for Gabriel Hall rested their case Monday after calling Hall’s older sister to share her experiences in her adopted home.
Eralyn Hall, who introduced herself as Eralyn Espinosa-Canada — after her biological parents — was living on her own around the time her brother committed capital murder.
She had been kicked out of Wes and Karen Hall’s house and didn’t find out Gabriel Hall killed Edwin Shaar and seriously injured his wife until about a month afterward, she said.
She said her adoptive parents didn’t tell her about her brother being arrested. She found out through her boyfriend, and later when a detective came to talk to her.
She said she couldn’t believe her brother could do that. She didn’t think he was that kind of person and said she wished she could have been there to help him deal with whatever “demons” were bothering him.
Eralyn Hall was 16 years old when she was adopted by Wes and Karen Hall. She said during their first family dinner in Texas, she tried to eat spaghetti with a spoon and fork at the same time. She said Karen Hall slapped her on the hand and told her to eat like an American, and if she did it again she’d cut her thumbs off.
Yana Hall, who was adopted by the Halls from Russia and testified as a rebuttal witness for the state, said she was in the room that night and Karen Hall never threatened to cut anybody’s thumbs off.
Prosecutors asked Yana Hall about the alleged abuse at the hands of Karen Hall. Yana said she never felt like she was abused and she was never afraid that any of her siblings were being physically or emotionally abused.
She said Karen Hall would get mad and yell at her kids when they misbehaved. She said Karen Hall would poke them in the collarbone with her finger when they got in trouble, like the other siblings testified. Yana Hall said the poking was unpleasant, but it wasn’t forceful enough to leave a bruise.
Prosecutors asked Yana Hall how it feels to hear allegations of abuse against her family. Hall said it was difficult and hurtful. She said she wished her family had more support.
“It’s hard, hearing those things and knowing a lot of them are untrue,” Hall said. “I can’t really put into words how it feels to have your whole life put under a microscope.”
Yana Hall said she understands her mother wasn’t perfect, but said she did the best she could for her children.
Defense Attorney Andrea Keilen had Yana Hall clarify that what she thought about her mother were her opinions, not those of her other siblings.
Yana Hall said some of the children had better relationships with Wes and Karen Hall than others did.
State prosecutors called a forensic psychologist as one of their rebuttal witnesses to give his interpretation of Gabriel Hall’s cognitive tests.
Randall Price said he is one of about 20 board-certified forensic psychologists in Texas.
He said when the average person is given a series of neurological tests, like Gabriel Hall was, it is common for that person to show abnormal scores on five to
15 percent of the sub-tests.
He said Hall scored abnormally low on about six percent of the tests, within the normal range.
He said Hall’s psychological tests, previously interpreted by Nancy Nussbaum as being indicative of some type of brain dysfunction, did not suggest or support the neuropsychological impairment that he would expect to see after traumatic experiences.
Judge Travis Bryan III told jurors that he expected closing arguments to be delivered Wednesday morning.