HOUSTON (AP) – The family of a 9-year-old Houston girl who died after being shot by a man who opened fire when he was robbed at an ATM said Wednesday they remain angry over a grand jury’s decision not to charge the man.
“It wasn’t an accident. That wasn’t self-defense,” April Aguirre, Arlene Alvarez’s aunt, said during a news conference while showing a photograph of the girl lying in a hospital bed bloodied and bandaged shortly before she was released. show his death.
Tony Earls, 41, was charged with aggravated assault and grievous bodily harm in Alvarez’s death on February 14. A grand jury in Harris County in Houston on Tuesday could have charged him with this charge or several others, including manslaughter and murder, but he refused to do so.
However, the grand jury’s decision came as no surprise as prosecutors’ efforts in this case had little chance of success, according to a legal expert.
Texas law “grants very, very broad self-defense rights to people who carry guns, even if the person makes a mistake,” said Sandra Guerra Thompson, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center.
Earls and his wife were at an ATM to withdraw money when an unidentified thief threw a gun at them and fled after taking $ 20, along with a check and his car keys, according to prosecutors.
Earls’ lawyers said that after his client got out of his car, the robber fired and Earls fired in self-defense.
Investigators say Earls shot at a truck thinking the suspect in the robbery could get on it. But the vehicle actually took Alvarez and his family on their way to the ATM to make a deposit before heading to a late dinner at a pizzeria. The girl was shot in the head and then died at a hospital.
Earls’ lawyers say his client continues to mourn Alvarez but that the grand jury has made the right decision and that the person responsible for his death is the robber.
“Sir. Earls has done what we believe anyone in that situation would do. We are relieved that, despite the excitement and difficult decisions that had to be made in dealing with this case, justice has been done to Mr Earls,” they said in a statement. his lawyers, Myrecia Donaldson and Brennen Dunn.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said the grand jury’s decision did not mean “to be innocent, Mr. Earls. That means he was not criminally liable.”
Gwen Alvarez, the girl’s mother, said Tuesday in tears that the grand jury’s decision left her feeling that “the system has failed us.”
“In my eyes, (Earls) is guilty because it was he who decided to shoot at our vehicle several times and didn’t stop until he ran out of bullets.”
Rick Ramos, the Alvarez family’s attorney, said Wednesday that Earls’ actions were reckless and questioned whether Earls was capable of carrying a gun, as his lawyers had indicated in court records that he suffered from a mental illness before the shooting.
But Thompson said mental illness issues would not make a difference in this case as Texas has no red-flag laws that allow law enforcement or family members to ask a judge to order the seizure or delivery of weapons to someone which is considered dangerous. , often for mental health issues or threats of violence. Last year, Texas lawmakers expanded gun rights by allowing people to carry guns without first having a background check and training.
Ramos said he plans for an independent expert to review the evidence and see if the case can be presented to another grand jury.
But Ogg said investigators planned to focus on finding the unidentified robber and holding him responsible for Alvarez’s death, and now authorities are offering a $ 30,000 reward for the information that led to his arrest.
“If Mr. Earls had shot the robber … we’d probably be celebrating,” Thompson said. “But that was not the situation, and unfortunately a tragically innocent child was murdered.”
There is no charge for the shooting death of a girl during an ATM theft
Source link There is no charge for the shooting death of a girl during an ATM theft