HOUSTON (AP) — A murder charge has been dropped against a homeless man accused of fatally stabbing an 11-year-old Houston boy as the child walked home from school last year, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
DNA tests prosecutors received this week were inconclusive and there wasn’t enough evidence to try 28-year-old Andre Timothy Jackson Jr. for murder, said Harris County First Assistant District Attorney Tom Berg.
Josue Flores, a sixth-grader, was killed as he walked home from a science club meeting at Marshall Middle School just north of downtown Houston on May 17, 2016. Authorities say the boy was stabbed at least 20 times.
Jackson is still a suspect in the slaying but authorities are essentially starting over with their investigation, Berg said.
“This was a very difficult decision we had to make… We are not forgetting Josue,” he said.
Jerome Godinich, Jackson’s attorney, said he was not surprised by the decision from prosecutors as he believed his client was not responsible for the boy’s killing after reviewing evidence in the case.
“I think the DA’s office made the right decision,” Godinich said.
Jackson, who’s been jailed on a $100,000 bond since his arrest, was expected to be freed later Tuesday.
Jackson, a veteran, had been arrested at the Salvation Army in downtown Houston, where he had lived for a couple of months.
Prosecutors had said Jackson admitted he was the man seen on a surveillance video near the crime scene.
But none of Josue’s DNA was found on Jackson’s clothing and no DNA from Jackson was found on the boy’s clothing, Berg said.
“We are not saying that Andre Jackson is innocent and is excluded as a suspect,” said Tiffany Dupree, the prosecutor handling the case. “We’re just saying at this point, if we tried this case to a jury, we don’t feel we could secure a conviction.”
Godinich said he is not worried that Jackson will be charged again with the boy’s murder.
The boy’s family was disappointed but they want prosecutors to be able to prove their case and get “justice for Josue,” Dupree said.
This was the second time prosecutors had dropped charges in the case. A 31-year-old man with a long criminal history was charged days after the killing, but that charge was dropped when detectives found evidence to support his alibi.