Police: Person of interest in judge's attack held in slaying

AP News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 7:25 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A man being investigated in the shooting and wounding of a Texas judge last week was charged Tuesday with murder in an unrelated Houston slaying, police said.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said Chimene Hamilton Onyeri, 28, is being held in Houston. A criminal complaint filed by the Harris County district attorney's office shows he's accused in the May 18 fatal shooting of 31-year-old Jacobi Demon Alexander.

Authorities say Alexander was walking through a common area of a Houston apartment complex when two men approached him and shot him several times. No motive was given for the slaying and the complaint didn't specify how Onyeri may be linked to it.

Onyeri has a preliminary court appearance on the murder charge scheduled for Thursday. His lawyer, Michaela Cuellar, didn't respond to a message seeking comment.

Acevedo said Onyeri is being investigated but isn't considered a formal suspect yet in Friday's "cowardly" attack on state District Judge Julie Kocurek, who was shot and wounded as she arrived at her Austin home. Her injuries were not considered life-threatening, but she remained hospitalized Tuesday.

Investigators are working to establish an "affirmative link" that shows Kocurek was targeted because of her work on the bench, Acevedo said.

Kocurek, a former prosecutor, was appointed to the court by then-Gov. George W. Bush and has been Travis County's presiding felony judge since 1999.

Kocurek was considering a motion that Travis County prosecutors filed a motion Aug. 28 seeking to have Onyeri's probation revoked after authorities in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, charged him with unauthorized use of a debit card.

An affidavit from Onyeri's 2012 arrest in his Travis County case shows Austin-area police charged Onyeri with fraudulent use of identifying information after police found 17 gift cards encoded with stolen bank account information during a traffic stop.

Onyeri has a criminal record dating to 2006, with offenses that include fraudulently using another person's identity or bank cards. He's also been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, marijuana possession and evading detention. He was arrested in 2008 in Harris County on a murder charge that was later dismissed.

Court records show Onyeri was charged in the June 2008 slaying of a Houston man. At the time, Onyeri was out on bond after being charged earlier that year with aggravated robbery from a 2005 incident.

Harris County district attorney's office spokesman Jeff McShan said prosecutors decided they had a better chance of conviction on the aggravated robbery charge, so they tried him on that and planned to bring up at sentencing that he was a suspect in a slaying. But he was acquitted of aggravated robbery at trial in 2013.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Cameron Welch told The Associated Press that Onyeri was taken into custody Monday in Houston following a traffic stop. He was being sought by officials in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on a larceny charge for allegedly stealing a vehicle.

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Warren reported from Dallas. Associated Press writers Michael Graczyk in Houston and Paul J. Weber in Austin contributed to this report.