Group home resident dead following altercation

April 6, 2012 8:15:47 AM PDT
Houston police are investigating the death of a man at a group home on the city's southwest side.

It was at about 4:30am Thursday, when, according to police, a resident of a group home in the 6100 block of Claridge made sexual advances toward the female homeowner. Her husband intervened, and police say the man assaulted him.

"They got into a violent struggle inside the living room," HPD Sgt. Warren Meeler said. "Got him in a choke hold and held him until he finally gave up."

Seconds after letting him go, detectives say, the resident collapsed. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have identified him as Sterling Shepherd, 44. Neighbors aren't sure what to make of that.

"Freaks me out," said neighbor Arna Isman. "I don't like that."

Police say Shepherd had just moved into the home three days ago. He'd fought on Wednesday night with folks here about not being allowed to smoke in his room.

Police tell us there were four residents living in this group home, including the victim. They describe some as having mental disabilities. The property is not licensed with the state of Texas as an assisted living facility but it is used by the department of criminal justice as "alterative housing." It's on a list of properties parolees can live at upon release from prison.

All of this is unsettling to those living nearby, who note that there's a park just a few feet away and an elementary school not much further.

TDCJ says it currently has one parolee living at the home, someone who was convicted of aggravated kidnapping. Officials say that person however was not involved in this incident.

Police say the case will be referred to a Harris County grand jury. Shepherd's cause of death is pending an autopsy by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

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