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One day in the summer of 1994, Robert Carreiro was sitting in a Harris County courtroom listening to pretrial motions in the capital murder case of Rex Mays. It was a time that Carreiro had long awaited in conspicuous fashion.
Approximately two years earlier -- on July 20, 1992 -- Carreiro's seven-year-old daughter, Kynara, and her best friend, ten-year-old Kristin Wiley, had been savagely stabbed to death in a bedroom of the Wiley home. For 19 months, detectives from the Harris County Sheriff's Office searched for the girls' killer before eventually arresting Mays, the Wileys' quiet next-door neighbor.
During the year and a half that the killer remained at large, Bob Carreiro -- a ponytailed, tattooed motorcycle enthusiast -- emerged from obscurity to become one of the highest-profile members of the burgeoning victims' rights movement. He joined Justice for All, a group that lobbies for tougher penalties against violent criminals, and was elected to the board of Parents of Murdered Children. He developed into a fixture at the criminal courthouse, attending murder trials and comforting and encouraging other surviving victims. On Oprah, he described how nerve-racking it was to wait for Kynara's killer to be brought to justice; on Jerry Springer, he broke down and cried.
Now, six months after Mays' arrest, and more than two years after Kynara's death, Carreiro found himself in the courtroom of state District Judge Brian Rains. This time Carreiro was not there to comfort some other grief-stricken family. This time it was his turn to receive some degree of satisfaction. He watched as prosecutors and defense attorneys made their pretrial maneuvers, laying the groundwork to decide Mays' fate.
But despite Carreiro's public image, he was not thinking only about his dead daughter. Nor was he simply contemplating the justice that might finally be at hand. On this important day, Carreiro was also thinking about money and how to get it. And he had already selected an unlikely target: the family of his dead daughter's friend. Kip Wiley, 37, his wife Rebecca, 36, and his stepson Jeremy, now 19, were about to become Bob Carreiro's own victims.
"Bob came up and made mention of the fact that he had a right to sue me," recalls Kip Wiley. "I told him he should do what he thought he needed to do."
Two years after that day in court, Wiley believes Carreiro has gone too far. It's not just the money, not just that he's suing the Wileys for $2.5 million. More important -- at least to Kip Wiley -- Carreiro is also claiming that the Wileys were responsible for the death of his daughter. In the lawsuit, Wiley's stepson, who was 14 at the time of the murders, is singled out for special blame.
During depositions, Carreiro stated that if Jeremy had stayed at home that afternoon, Kynara and Kristin might not have been killed. The very idea enrages Wiley. He says anyone who feels that a 14-year-old boy is going to stop a knife-wielding adult is a fool.
"If my son had been at home, I'd have two dead children, not one," says Wiley. "And I'm going to clear Jeremy's name."
Kip Wiley once described Inwood North as "not quite Leave It to Beaver Land but pretty close." The Wileys moved into the northwest Harris County subdivision in 1986, transferring from Fort Worth for Kip's job with American Glass Inc. Fair Forest Street is tucked behind a wooden fence that lines Antoine, the closest major thoroughfare. The homes on Fair Forest are modest, suburban-style houses. Yards are well-kept. Trees and brick-enclosed mailboxes line the narrow streets.
Bob Carreiro didn't live in Inwood North, but the Wileys had known him for years; they weren't exactly friends, but they were friendly. The terms of Carreiro's 1988 divorce had given him custody of Kynara every other weekend and on certain holidays. Often Kynara had been at the Wileys' house when he came to pick her up; sometimes the Wileys had let Kristin spend the weekend with Kynara at Carreiro's home in Spring.
Kynara was Carreiro's life, and he was intent on not letting the split with his wife affect his relationship with his daughter. "I wanted to give my daughter the things, the love ... that was lacking in my childhood," he said in a deposition last May. "My daughter taught me how to love."
In July 1992, summer vacation was in full swing. The community echoed with the sounds of kids making the most of the weeks between classes. During the previous two summers, Jeremy and Kristin had signed up for programs at the local YMCA, where they were under adult supervision while Kip Wiley and his wife, Rebecca, worked.
But at the beginning of the summer of '92, the Wileys gave Jeremy more responsibility. The couple decided that the 14-year-old was mature enough to stay at their four-bedroom home while they were at their jobs. Although he was not required to stay at the house all day, he was under orders to call either his mother or his stepfather if he wanted to leave to play with his friends in the neighborhood. Additionally, he was to keep an eye on Kristin.