For Second Time, Harris County Drops Charges Against a Suspect in Slaying of Houston 11-Year-Old

A memorial for Josue Flores set up in his neighborhood last year.
A memorial for Josue Flores set up in his neighborhood last year. Photo by Meagan Flynn
The second suspect in the brutal murder of 11-year-old Josue Flores just became the second suspect to walk out of jail after the Harris County District Attorney's Office again conceded that it does not have enough evidence to continue prosecuting him for the murder.

Andre Jackson, a 28-year-old ex-Marine, was accused last June of stabbing Josue Flores to death while he walked home from a science party at Marshall Middle School in broad daylight on May 17. Now, however, DA's office First Assistant Tom Berg said results from a DNA analysis came back, and those results "make it impossible for us to move forward with the case at this time." The crime lab had tested DNA on both Jackson's and Flores's clothing, as well as various knives found in the vicinity, and Jackson's DNA was not connected to any of the crime-scene evidence, Berg said.

"The results of the DNA analysis are at best inconclusive and in some respects exclude him as a suspect," he said.

Jackson, who was homeless and had been living at a Salvation Army facility, was arrested largely based on tips police received after they released a business's surveillance video, which showed a black man with a distinct jacket running near the scene of the crime roughly four minutes after Flores was murdered. Police said they found the jacket in Jackson's possession at the Salvation Army, and he was promptly connected to the murder.

At that point, it had been just two weeks since police announced they arrested the wrong man in Flores's case the first time. Che Calhoun, the first wrong suspect, was also arrested largely based on eyewitness identification: A witness had picked him out of a photo lineup, saying the clothes Calhoun was wearing matched the clothes of the man who killed Flores. But within a matter of days, Calhoun was released from custody after his alibi checked out completely, with physical evidence proving that he was in Pearland at the time of Flores's murder.

Reporters questioned police when they announced Jackson's arrest in June about whether the public could trust that the police had the right man, based on the mistakes in Calhoun's case. As we wrote at the time: "[Now Former] Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said she is confident prosecutors have enough evidence to secure a conviction. Given that police originally arrested the wrong suspect based on faulty eyewitness identification, the public and Josue Flores's family can only hope she is right."

For his family, justice will have to wait yet again.

Prosecutor Tiffany Dupree said she and Tom Berg delivered the news to the family on their front porch Tuesday morning. "Obviously they're disappointed, but they want justice for Josue Flores," Dupree said, "and they want us to be able to prove the case and have sufficient evidence to prove the case."

Dupree maintained that despite the "inconclusive" DNA evidence, Jackson would remain a suspect in the case. She would not elaborate on any other leads or people of interest, saying the investigation is ongoing. She said that Jackson was released simply because the DA's office believed the evidence against him was too weak to take it to trial, and if prosecutors failed to convict him, they would be barred from trying Jackson again in the future if more evidence against him surfaced.

"As [current District Attorney] Kim Ogg has said many times, we are evidence-based," Berg said. "We have to follow the evidence whether it pleases us or causes us discomfort. This was a very difficult decision that we had to make."

CrimeStoppers is asking anyone with information on this now 14-month-old case to call 713-222-TIPS.
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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn