HOUSTON - Andre Jackson is guilty of the murder of 11-year-old Josue Flores, a jury decided Tuesday afternoon. It’s a verdict that’s been a long time coming since the Josue was suddenly attacked by a stranger as he walked home from middle school back in May 2016.
The jury deliberated for just about three hours after six days of testimony, and closing arguments Tuesday morning.
"That little boy is in this courtroom speaking to us all, ‘It’s me. He killed me,’" prosecutor John Jordan told the jury as he finished his closing argument. Jordan was referring to Josue’s DNA on Jackson’s jacket, which was sitting in the courtroom as evidence.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys called the investigation a "poor" one and questioned whether the DNA evidence was contaminated.
"This case is every defense attorney's worst nightmare. It is a textbook example of how innocent people get convicted," defense attorney Justin Keiter said in his closing argument.
But jurors ultimately believed prosecutors that Jackson, a former Marine Corps veteran who spent eight months in Iraq and was living in a Salvation Army shelter, without warning, attacked the honor student.
Although there wasn’t video of Josue being stabbed more than 20 times that day in 2016, a number of witnesses saw part or all of the brutal attack and several cameras captured Jackson running from the scene.
Jackson sobbed out loud after jurors delivered the guilty verdict. He sank his head onto the table as he borke down, yelling "God."
His mother and uncle were also seen crying in the courtroom.
Meanwhile, Josue Flores’ family wiped away tears as they received long-awaited justice for their 11-year-old boy who loved science and wanted to be a doctor.
"How appropriate that you can use, back in that jury room, science to convict his killer," Jordan told jurors before they began deliberating.
Josue Flores died in a stabbing in Houston on May 17, 2016.
The judge will hear testimony on Wednesday to decide Jackson's punishment. Jackson faces five years to life in prison.
During the week-long trial, the jury heard from forensic experts, police interrogation videos and emotional testimony. Here's a look back at key moments in the trial.
Prosecutors showed several surveillance videos to paint a timeline of Josue's gruesome murder.
At 4:39 p.m. on May 17, 2016, Josue is seen walking home from school in one video.
Prosecutors say that just one minute later, out of view of cameras, witnesses saw a grown man suddenly stab the 4’10," 77-pound child more than 20 times in a deadly and unprovoked attack that lasted mere seconds.
Then, at 4:42 p.m., the first of more than half a dozen surveillance cameras captures a man walking and looking at his hands, then putting on his jacket. He’s later running away. Prosecutors say the man in the video is Andre Jackson.
Defense attorneys did not deny the person in the video is Jackson, but they say witnesses initially said the killer had bushy hair and was carrying a bag.
Houston police released these images of a person of interest in the death of Josue Flores.
That green jacket, which prosecutors say tested positive for Flores’ DNA, was submitted as a key piece of evidence.
The jacket is a big reason defense attorneys are asking for the case against Jackson to be dismissed.
The defense says Houston Police investigators handled the jacket before securing a search warrant. Something detectives say is not true, and the judge has repeatedly denied the defense’s requests for dismissal.
Investigators say after obtaining a search warrant they recovered the green jacket, which has distinct lettering on the hood, from the back of a chair in the room at the Salvation Army where Jackson was staying. They say they recognized the jacket as the one the accused killer was wearing in surveillance footage.
A DNA expert testified that the cuff of Jackson's jacket tested positive for Josue's DNA.
According to the prosecution's witness, 85% of the DNA on the jacket's cuff belonged to Jackson, 10% from Josue, and 5% is from an unknown person.
The results come after Jackson's jacket was tested at a Florida lab in 2019. A test of the same jacket at a Texas state lab came back inconclusive years ago. HPD Cold Case detectives learned the out-of-town lab could run more sensitive tests than many other facilities.
Meanwhile, the defense is stressing the DNA is not blood or saliva but rather touch DNA.
They called their own DNA expert who testified that Josue’s DNA could have ended up on the jacket if the "real" killer came in contact with Jackson’s jacket there at the Salvation Army Shelter where Jackson was living.
Defense attorneys also said that contamination is a possibility, since the evidence has been reviewed at three labs and at one lab Josue’s shirt couldn’t be tested for DNA after mold had grown on it.
The jury also heard from a blood analysis witness for the prosecution who testified to how the accused may have stabbed the 11-year-old middle school student more than 20 times without getting blood on him.
According to the blood analysis expert, the killer would not have necessarily gotten blood on him because of how Josue and his killer were positioned as witnesses described it.
The killer was behind the 11-year-old with the child’s backpack between them. The boy's murderer was reaching around front to stab Josue in his chest and abdomen.
The blood analysis expert says even blood on the killer’s hand would have dried in seconds without transferring to the killer’s clothing.
The jury also heard testimonies from investigators and witnesses.
A Houston Police investigator who testified told jurors he believes Jackson is a "highly intelligent individual" whose actions were not consistent with other witnesses. He said late in the interrogation, Jackson tried pretending to be a witness when he couldn’t seem to get his story straight about why he was in the area and was caught on surveillance cameras running away after the murder.
The HPD detective said the crime scene is "burned into my mind because of the pure brutality against an 11-year-old child."
Several witnesses also testified, two of them cried on the stand saying they rushed to help after seeing what they thought was a man wandering over to Josue and started punching him. They said as quickly as the man attacked, he suddenly ran away.
One witness jumped in his van to chase the killer and followed him for several blocks before losing sight of him. That man says before Josue Flores died he said, "I just want to go home."
The witnesses also described the brutal attack on the boy.
They said the attacker held Josue from behind in a headlock with his left arm and reached around him to repeatedly stab him with his right. The 4’10" child was even stabbed through his arms as prosecutors said the 11-year-old bent slightly forward and wrapped his arms in front of him trying to shield himself from the brutal knife attack.
Then on the final day of testimony, the jury heard from Josue's mother.
Maria Flores told jurors she received a call on May 17, 2016, saying her 11-year-old son had been stabbed, just two blocks from home as he walked home from middle school.
She said it was a walk she normally took with her son, but she wasn’t feeling well that day.
The grieving mother said when she saw her son being taken out of the ambulance, his eyes were open, and she knew he was dead.