Father of slain kids charged with capital murder

HOUSTON There was never really much question that the DA would upgrade the charges against Randy Sylvester, Sr. What is surprising is the fact that Sylvester was allowed to repeatedly violate the terms of his probation without consequence prior to the murders.

Harris County DA Ken Magidson says the deaths of three-year-old Denim and seven-year-old Randy Sylvester, Jr., warrant the filing of two charges of capital murder against their father.

"If convicted, Sylvester could face life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty," Magidson explained. "The decision of whether or not to seek the death penalty has not yet been made."

Investigators can't say yet how the children died. Eyewitness News has leaned that Randy Sylvester, Sr., was on probation at the time of their murders. He pled guilty to possession of cocaine last November.

Since then, court documents indicate that between last December and now, Sylvester failed to present proof of employment or complete 160 hours of community service, he failed to attend a "drug dealer awareness program" and he never paid in full hundreds of dollars in fines, fees, and court costs. But in the months leading up to the murders, the case was never brought back to court for a judge to decide if Sylvester was in violation of his probation.

Andy Kahan, City of Houston Victim's rights advocate, said, "Whether it would have happened and maybe their lives would have been saved -- who knows?"

Kahan says the system failed these children, and that had a judge considered revoking Sylvester's probation after two to three months, the children might just still be alive today.

"I would rather be proactive and take this person off the street, than reactive and wait," Kahan said. "What happened in this situation, when you have his wife beaten up and ultimately the two kids… Why wait when you can possibly prevent?"

The judge who is overseeing Sylvester's probation cannot comment because it's an active case. The Harris County probation department won't answer our specific questions about why probation revocation wasn't considered in the months before the children were killed.

Their general counsel, though, tells Eyewitness Nwes that such decisions are "based on court policy, the effect of efforts to bring the client into compliance, and a variety of other factors that depend of the specifics of the client's case."

The DA's office has not decided if it will pursue the death penalty in this case.

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