Houston man used assault rifle to murder two men in 2022, sentenced to prison

A Houston man who pleaded guilty to murder for using an assault rifle to kill two men in 2022 has been sentenced to prison, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

On Monday, 21-year-old Kurt Whitten was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the deaths of 20-year-old Jeremiah Joshua Ponce and 26-year-old Thomas Anthony Alvarado. He originally faced life in prison without parole but accepted a plea deal.

"This was more than just a premeditated act of gun violence — this defendant’s every intention was to hurt, maim, and kill, and now two families will spend the rest of their lives in mourning," Ogg said. "Prosecutors with our Homicide Division worked to get justice for these families, and this defendant will spend decades in prison."

SUGGESTED: Revenge-seeking Colorado trio kills 5 in 'coordinated' arson attack on the wrong home

On July 27, 2022, reports say Whitten was walking home from a store near Aldine Westfield and Parker in the Eastex-Jensen area when he had an altercation with Ponce and Alvarado.

After going back home, he asked a friend to drive him around in the friend's black pickup truck to find the two men, officials said.

Kurt Whitten

The Harris County DA's Office stated after spotting the two men in a white car near the scene of the confrontation, Whitten, armed with an assault rifle, stood up in the truck's bed and fired more than two dozen bullets into their vehicle, killing both men instantly. In an attempt to destroy evidence, Whitten later set the truck on fire.

An eyewitness provided crucial details to investigators, including a description of the truck and Whitten’s clothing, which ultimately led Houston Police Department officers to locate and arrest Whitten.

Assistant District Attorneys Megan Long and Maroun Koutani, both from the Homicide Division, prosecuted the case. "He was out hunting these two young men, and he shot at least 24 times with high-caliber bullets — the kind of bullets that will go through brick," Long said. "Two families lost sons who were in their 20s, and no parent should ever have to bury their child, so hopefully this will help them get closure on what happened."

FOX 26 Houston is now on the FOX LOCAL app available through Apple TV, Amazon FireTV, Roku, Google Android TV, and Vizio!

During Monday's court session, the families of the victims delivered emotional impact statements before Whitten received his sentence. Whitten must serve at least 30 years before being eligible for parole and cannot appeal the conviction or the sentence.

The case against the driver of the truck remains pending.