Josue Flores was on his way home from Marshall Middle School around 4:45 Tuesday when a man originally suspected to be Che Calhoun fatally stabbed him for no identifiable reason. Aided by witnesses and several tips, U.S. Marshals arrested Calhoun Wednesday, but the Harris County District Attorney's Office is now saying that Calhoun is no longer a suspect.
At a press conference today, police said that they believed they had probable cause to charge Calhoun because a witness identified him in an array of photos, and described him as wearing the same clothes that Calhoun can be seen wearing the day before Flores was killed, when Calhoun escaped arrest at a Metro light-rail station after getting in a fight. Turns out that witness got it wrong: When police brought Calhoun in for questioning, Lieutenant Robert Blain, the lead investigator on the case, said that Calhoun insisted he didn't do it and gave a detailed alibi. Sure enough, when investigators visited the people in Pearland Calhoun claimed to be with Tuesday afternoon, not only did they confirm he had been there, but there was physical evidence to prove it. At that point, the DA's office dropped the charges. (Calhoun is still being held in jail on the evading arrest charge, however.)
"We don't rely solely on eyewitness identification," Blain said. "The reason that we have asked for the charges to be dropped was that we have furthered the investigation and there's other evidence that proves he was not the person who did it." He added, "We need to reach out to the public with any information, because the murderer is still loose at this point."
What happens when police rely mostly on eyewitness identification, however, does not always pan out so great, as evidenced in this case and others. Last year, for example, an innocent man served six months in the Harris County jail, unable to afford bail, because a victim of a robbery mistakenly identified him and police didn't even notice that the man they put in jail did not have a face tattoo like the suspect they sought. He missed his baby's first steps because of it.
Today, Marshall Middle School is holding a vigil to pay tribute to the classmate they lost. Family, friends and community members also held one Wednesday, retracing Flores's last steps from the school to the spot he was killed, on Fulton Street near James Street. As KTRK reported, his sister, Guadalupe, had told dozens of marchers, some wearing handmade shirts honoring Flores, that they had taken comfort in knowing that the man who did this had been captured.