AUSTIN, Texas — A 22-year-old Southeast Austin man has been charged with murder in the weekend slaying of his roommate, whose dead body was found abandoned in the back of a pickup in a Southwest Austin neighborhood park.
An arrest affidavit released Wednesday states that Dario Donahue Ballard II was arrested after police linked him to a vehicle found early Sunday in the Travis Country subdivision near Southwest Parkway and MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1).
The victim was identified as Omar Azmitia-Hernandez, one of Ballard’s roommates at a duplex in the 5200 block of Woodland Oaks Court. No motive for the slaying was given in court documents.
The affidavit said a third roommate at the duplex told police this week that Ballard shot Azmitia-Hernandez and then asked for his help “to dispose of the victim’s body.”
Police were called to a community center in the 4500 block of Travis Country Circle about 4 a.m. Sunday after a security guard found two unauthorized vehicles parked there. The neighborhood park area is typically locked overnight, but early Sunday, the security guard noticed it was unlocked and that two vehicles were parked there.
The guard entered the park, then heard a voice in the distance and saw someone fleeing, which later triggered an air and ground search by Austin police. As police canvassed the area, they discovered the body of a man wrapped in a blanket under a mattress in the back of a red Dodge pickup, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit said a second abandoned vehicle, a Dodge Magnum, was stolen in an earlier incident. Police later found the owner of the pickup, Jarrett Merritt, who told police he lent the pickup to his friend “D” because he had to “move something.” “D” was later identified as Ballard, who lived with Azmitia-Hernandez and at least one other roommate, the affidavit said.
Then about 8 p.m. Sunday, Austin fire officials responded to a fire at the duplex near South Pleasant Valley Road and Stassney Lane. When police arrived, they were told the duplex unit and a vehicle had been intentionally set on fire, the affidavit said.
It said officers also found evidence of blood near the front entrance of the duplex. Late Tuesday, the third roommate, 23-year-old Kyle Tetley, was arrested on a parole violation and interviewed by police, the affidavit said.
Tetley told police that Azmitia-Hernandez was shot by Ballard, who “offered him money to dispose of the victim’s body,” the document said. Tetley and Ballard attempted to dispose of the body at the Travis Country neighborhood park but ran away when they were surprised by security, the affidavit said.
Jail records show Tetley is facing two counts of parole violation and unauthorized absence from a community correctional facility. He has several prior convictions for evading arrest, burglary and theft, according to a search of public records.
Meanwhile, public records show Ballard has no criminal record. He was booked into Travis County Jail shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday and was being held on $150,000 bail, records show.