A Harris County, Texas grand jury recently declined to indict robbery victim Tony Earls, who accidentally shot nine-year-old Arlene Alvarez.
The Harris County grand jury declined to bring charges against Earls, whom police said fatally shot Alvarez by mistake in February. The 41-year-old was previously arrested and charged with aggravated assault, but due to the grand jury’s decision, his case cannot be revisited, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said.
“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 explained, noting that deadly force could be excused, including under defense of property cases.
She added that it’s not up to prosecutors to decide on felony indictments.
“Every felony charge goes to a grand jury. Today, a grand jury ‘no-billed’ Tony Earls,” Ogg said.
An investigation of the shooting incident determined that a robber near a Chase Bank ATM in the Gulfgate area targeted Earls and his wife. The robbery prompted the Texas man to walk out and shoot at the fleeing suspect as well as a getaway truck that he thought the unidentified person was entering. However, he made an error, as Alvarez and her family were inside the truck instead.
“I lived that moment, and I got back to that day every night. And I know what happened,” the nine-year-old’s mother, Gwen Alvarez, said at a press conference on July 19. “He gets to see the light. My daughter still doesn’t. My daughter is still down, underground. I don’t know if she is even good spiritually.”
Earls’ defense lawyers, Brennen Dunn and Myrecia Donaldson released a statement sending their condolences to Alvarez’s family.
“We would first like to extend our condolences to the Alvarez family once more. There is no greater loss than that of a loved one, and we continue to grieve for the loss of such a beautiful soul,” the statement said. “While that life weighs heavy on us, we are happy with the grand jury’s finding in this case. Their decision reflects our position since the onset of this case.”