Officer's family upset about lesser charges

HOUSTON In their first public comments, the family of a Houston police officer killed in the line of duty back in June, is calling for change as the result of a grand jury's decision Thursday.

Officer /*Henry Canales*/ was shot to death, and the man who pulled the trigger was killed by other officers. But two other suspects involved found out Thursday the longest they will serve in prison if convicted is life with the possibility of parole.

The two surviving suspects in the murder of Officer Canales will be in court Friday. For three months they had been charged with capital murder. They were indicted on a lesser charge Thursday.

When Xiomara Mendez Rosales and Andres Nava Maldonado walk back into court again, they'll be facing a new charge of felony murder. For the family of the Houston police officer they're accused of killing, it just doesn't fit.

"It seems like a great injustice," said sister Lucia Canales.

Officer Canales' brother, sisters and father sat down with us to speak publicly for the first time since his killing. It's been a hard three months.

"There's a big hole. It will never be the same," said sister Sandra Canales.

They're fueled only by family support and Canales' legacy.

"I remember him smiling all the time, never being upset," said Sandra.

Canales, 42, was working undercover as part of a sting operation back in June when he was killed. Investigators say he was posing as a person trying to sell stolen TVs. The buyer shot Canales before being shot himself. Mendez and Nava were there that night and labeled as accomplices. For three months they had been charged with capital murder. That changed Thursday.

"They were all in on it. They knew what the outcome was going to be," said brother Jesus Canales, Jr.

Legal experts say the grand jury likely reduced the charges because the suspects didn't know they were dealing with a police officer and the surviving ones didn't pull the trigger. The Canales' family wants change.

"Automatic capital murder charges on anybody who kills an officer, whether they know he was an officer or not," said Lucia.

They're deciding how to make a difference for the sake of their brother. He was the life of their family. A man dedicated to all of their children. He was an officer, but a father first.

Those family members aren't sure if they'll attend the court hearing on Friday, but they do plan to be at the trial. They will face some tough tests in the upcoming months. Henry Canales birthday is in November and for more than 20 years, he played Santa Claus for the family's holiday celebration.

Thursday's court appearance

Two people accused in the murder of a Houston police officer are facing lesser charges.

A Harris County grand jury Thursday indicted Andres Nava Maldonado and Xiomara Mendez Rosales on felony murder charges. Each was originally charged with capital murder, which would have made them eligible for the death penalty. The lesser charge means the maximum sentence they can receive is life in prison.

They are both accused of being accomplices in the June shooting death of officer Henry Canales. He was working undercover in a sting operation, when the gunman, Roberto Carrillo, shot and killed him. Another undercover officer then shot and killed Carrillo.

Maldonado and Rosales are also each charged with engaging in organized criminal activity. They're due in court Friday.

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