With a grand jury declining to indict the robbery victim who fired the shot that killed a 9-year-old girl, attention turns to the person said to have held up the gunman.
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) — Arlene Alvarez’s family on Tuesday found themselves nowhere close to true justice five months after the tragic chain of events that led to the 9-year-old girl’s killing.
Earlier in the day, a Harris County grand jury declined to bring charges against 41-year-old Tony Earls, the man whom police say fired the shots that left the little girl dead on Feb. 15.
An investigation determined Earls and his wife were targeted by a robber near a Chase Bank ATM in the Gulfgate area. Earls then got out and shot at the fleeing suspect and a pickup truck that he thought the person was getting into, police said.
But the pickup was not the suspect’s getaway car. Instead, it was occupied by Arlene and her family.
Earls was arrested and charged with aggravated assault but with the grand jury’s decision, his case cannot be presented again, according to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
“The grand jury, a random group of ordinary people in Harris County who answered their jury summons, heard the evidence in this case as presented by our prosecutors, heard all of the possible charges – from murder to manslaughter to aggravated assault to criminally-negligent homicide. That grand jury also heard possible defenses,” Ogg said, explaining that deadly force can be excused including under defense of property cases.
Despite the explanation, Ogg reminded it’s not up to prosecutors to decide on felony indictments.
“Every felony charge goes to a grand jury,” Ogg said. “And today, a grand jury ‘no-billed’ Tony Earls.”
So what’s next in a case that remains without resolution? Ogg and the Alvarez family turned their attention to the robber whom the district attorney said set off the chain of events that left an innocent child dead. They were front and center during a news conference at Crime Stoppers of Houston on Tuesday afternoon, where a reward of up to $30,000 is now offered for the arrest of the so-called “killer.”
“It is very hard to understand and accept (the grand jury’s decision), and what I’ve asked them to do is to work with us to catch the killer,” Ogg said, acknowledging the inability to disagree with the grand jury but the ability to move forward in the case.
“To say that we’re disappointed, wouldn’t be enough,” said April Aguirre, Arlene’s aunt. “We feel defeated, because they so quickly came to a decision that we don’t agree with.”
In pleading for help in the case, Aguirre gave a reminder of the human toll from this ordeal alone.
“Arlene was murdered, and we will never get her back,” Aguirre said. “Arlene will forever be frozen in time as a fourth grader. She will forever be 9.”
A 9-year-old girl who was accidentally shot in the middle of a robbery in southeast Houston has been pronounced dead, according to authorities.
A new video released by police shows the moment the suspect approached Tony D. Earls and his wife at the ATM and robbing them at gunpoint.