That grieving family expected to go to the courthouse to get closure and justice over the gruesome murder of a grandfather. But the suspect in this case threw a unexpected curveball, changing his plea.
With heavy hearts and teary eyes, the family of Johnnie Gonzales says it was dealt an unexpected blow at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center on Thursday.
The victim's daughter, Monica Shiel, said, "Today's a disappointing day for our family. We thought that my family would get closure. Now we're back to square one. We're going to have to go to trial."
Disappointing, family members like Shiel say, considering they came to court expecting a judge to sentence Justin Parris on his recent guilty plea in the gruesome 2009 murder of his grandfather. Instead, the emotional group learned Parris recently changed his story, now claiming he didn't kill Gonzales.
"It just hurts. It hurts really bad," Shiel said. "It's just prolonging and prolonging. We keep doing this over and over, and we just can't ever get closure, and you think you're getting close and it just doesn't happen."
Parris, 26, is accused of repeatedly stabbing and decapitating his 81-year-old grandfather at the home they shared in Garden Oaks four years ago. The crime has divided members of this once close family.
"He wasn't competent, you know," said Anna Parris, the suspect's mother. "He wasn't all there."
Justin's mom, Anna, says the troubles with her son have left her estranged from her own siblings. But she says even with the courtroom confusion, she's sticking by her son and his new plea of not guilty.
She said, "I think he just wanted to hurry up and get this done and over with and so that everyone wouldn't have to go through this."
That family will have to go through this for at least another five months. A jury trial has been scheduled for March next year.
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