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Genealogical DNA Used to Solve Decades Old Oak Ridge Murder

On Tuesday, June 29, 2022, Judge Lisa Michalk, presiding in the 221st District Court, accepted a plea of guilty from Martin Isaac Tellez, 45, for a homicide he committed in 2002. Tellez was sentenced to 60 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division in exchange for his guilty plea. Tellez will be required to serve one-half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
On February 15, 2002, at approximately 12:50 p.m., officers with the Oak Ridge North Police Department were dispatched to the Coastal Gas Station convenience store and cash checking business located at 26914 Interstate 45 North, Oak Ridge North, regarding an apparent homicide. Detective Kent Hubbard responded to the scene. Detective Hubbard observed a male, later identified as Subir Chatterjee, deceased in the secured clerk’s booth/office area of the gas station. Mr. Chatterjee, who owned and operated the Coastal gas station, also provided a check-cashing service at the location. Mr. Chatterjee had an apparent gunshot wound to his head. Additionally, someone had taken approximately $160,000 in cash. At the time of the offense, law enforcement had few leads, vague witness descriptions, no surveillance video, and no suspects.
The case went cold for almost twenty years. Fortunately, Detective Hubbard persisted in investigating the case. Detective Hubbard worked leads on the case for more than fifteen years before coming across an article outlining how law enforcement in California used genealogy and DNA to solve homicide cases.
Detective Hubbard reached out to Parabon Nanolabs, an organization that uses genetic genealogy, phenotyping, ancestry, and kinship analysis to assist law enforcement in developing potential suspects for cases where DNA evidence is present. With the agreement of the Oakridge Police Department and the assistance of Division Chief Donna Hansen at the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Hubbard requested and received asset forfeiture funds to pay for the testing in this case by Parabon.
In 2018, Parabon reported to Detective Hubbard that three members of the Tellez family were potential sources of the evidence collected from the crime scene.
On December 4, 2019, Detective Hubbard learned that the DNA extracted from the fork, coffee cup, and piece of toast collected from the table where Martin Isaac Tellez was eating was an exact match to the DNA from the scene. DPS Analyst A. McWhorter informed Detective Hubbard that, due to advances in DNA technology since the initial testing in this case, he was able to re-examine the fingernail scrapings from Chatterjee’s autopsy, and he observed that Martin Isaac Tellez’s DNA was contained within the mixture of DNA from under Chatterjee’s fingernails.
On December 10, 2019, Detective Hubbard arrested Martin Tellez for capital murder, seventeen years, nine months, and twenty-five days after committing this crime. Following his arrest, Martin Tellez confessed to murdering Chatterjee during the course of robbing him. He explained that his blood was present at the scene because Chatterjee, struck him in the head with a telephone to defend himself, and the blow caused Tellez’s scalp to bleed.
In 2005, the Texas Legislature made life without parole a punishment option for capital felonies. Because Tellez committed this offense before the enactment of that law, a sentence of life without parole was not included in his punishment range.
During the pendency of his case, Tellez, who was out on a $500,000 bond, cut off his GPS monitoring device and fled to Mexico. Texas Ranger Derek Leitner, with the assistance of agents from Homeland Security and the US Marshals, successfully tracked and convinced Tellez to return to the United States to await trial. On June 28, 2022, Tellez pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for a sentence of 60 years.
Assistant District Attorney Donna Hansen: “Martin Tellez lived more than twenty years of his life with his family and his loved ones around him. Meanwhile, members of the Chatterjee family were left with an empty chairs and aching hearts, believing they might never know who was responsible. Detective Kent Hubbard never gave up on this case, and it was my privilege to be able to assist him in bringing justice and closure to Subir’s family.
District Attorney Brett Ligon: “Every murder creates a wound in our community and in the lives of the victim’s family. Some of those wounds—like the murder of this beloved father and husband—are very deep; in this case, those wounds were laid bare for decades. Fortunately, a relentless instrument of dogged justice in the form of Detective Hubbard made what was wrong, right, and we hope that this measure of accountability will bring some relief to this grieving family.”

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