HOUSTON - UPDATE - Tuesday afternoon January 8, 2019
Harris County Sheriff’s Office homicide investigators have filed a capital murder charge against Larry D. Woodruffe, 24, for the Dec. 30 shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes.
Jazmine's mother was driving Jazmine and her three sisters southbound on the East Sam Houston Parkway feeder road near Wallisville Road at approximately 6:50 a.m. on Dec. 30 when they were fired upon by someone in another vehicle.
Investigators identified Woodruffe and Eric Black Jr., 20, as suspects based on a tip. Subsequent investigation revealed evidence that corroborated the tip, and both men were taken into custody on Jan. 5 in East Harris County.
Black then admitted to taking part in the shooting and was charged with capital murder.
Woodruffe was booked into the Harris County Jail on a felony drug possession charge, pending further investigation.
On Tuesday, on the basis of additional corroborating evidence, prosecutors with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office accepted a capital murder charge against Woodruffe.
Investigators have filed a capital murder charge against Eric Black Jr., 20, in the shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes on Saturday. A possible second suspect, Larry Woodruffe, 24 was also taken into custody in the shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes. Investigators continue to gather new evidence in this case. Black made his court appearance on Monday morning.
Jazmine was shot and killed when someone opened fire on the car she was in with her mother and three sisters in East Harris County on the morning of December 30. Her mother was also shot and taken to the hospital.
Black appeared in Probable Cause Court Sunday morning. Prosecutors say he was driving the vehicle that pulled alongside the Barnes family car and that someone else shot into the car. Black is currently being held at the Harris County Jail without bond and is expected to make his first court appearance Monday morning. Black says he thought it was a car he had seen the night before, he didn't realize who was inside.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says the investigation took a new direction after investigators followed a tip that was initially made to activist Shaun King, who was offering a large reward, and the information was passed on to the sheriff's office. The sheriff says an investigation revealed evidence that corroborated the tip and lead to the arrest of Black on Saturday afternoon.
The sheriff's office says Black admitted to his role in the shooting. The sheriff's office believes that the shooting was likely a case of mistaken identity and the intended targets were likely someone else.
"I am grateful to our dedicated investigators, the partner law enforcement agencies that provided vital assistance, and tipsters from across the nation who pulled together to support our work to get justice for Jazmine," Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. "Our work is not finished, but I believe the people of Harris County can take comfort in knowing we have made great progress."
The sheriff says they have brought in at least one or more other people for questioning, but that no additional charges have been filed at this time. Until then, they are keeping Black’s role in the case under wraps.
Sheriff Gonzalez says investigators believe there are two individuals, including Black, involved in the case, and investigators are working to verify the information. He says charges against a second suspect are possible.
A composite sketch originally released by the Harris County Sheriff's Office on Thursday described the shooting suspect as a thin white man in his 30s or 40s who was driving a red pickup truck. Investigators now believe the man was just a witness but would still like to talk to him in case something he heard or saw could help the investigation.
"We do know that there was a red truck involved. We know that they had come to a traffic signal near the Walmart, both this red truck, the driver, and LaPorcha and the family. At some point, as the red traffic signal turned they started going. We now believe that the red truck probably enter the freeway and continued on another direction," says Sheriff Gonzalez.
Jazmine’s father, Chris Cevilla, spoke about the update and said it was a major milestone.
"I feel some relief in this because now my baby has got justice and we can probably put her to rest without having to put her to rest and be still on a manhunt looking for a suspect or suspects whatever it may be," Cevilla says.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said, "I think it is important to again emphasize to the faith community that we must continue to pray and embrace this family."
The sheriff says he hopes to release new information about the second suspect as soon as possible, but says he needs your help with tips coming in. Anyone with information that can help the ongoing investigation is urged to contact Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS or 713-221-6000.
The location for Jazmine's funeral on Tuesday has changed to the Community of Faith Church off Pinemont Drive. The viewing will be at 10 a.m. and the funeral will be at noon.
Jazmine’s funeral is being paid for by retired NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal and veteran Houston Police officer Kenneth Miles.