Van Exel, 22, son of former basketball player Nick Van Exel, is accused of fatally shooting his longtime friend Bradley Eyo in the chest in 2010. Police said Van Exel confessed to the shooting, claiming he did not realize the shotgun was loaded.
In the capital murder trial that began Tuesday, prosecutor Elaine Evans said Eyo was killed because he "was going to be a snitch," the Dallas Morning News reported.
As part of a guilty plea in the aggravated robberies he and Van Exel allegedly committed in 2010, Eyo was likely to implicate Van Exel, prosecutors said in opening statements.
"Bradley Eyo was going to do the right thing," Evans said.
As part of Eyo's guilty plea, he was to tell Houston prosecutors about his crimes, and doing so could have implicated Van Exel, the Morning News said.