Suspect arrested in murder of homeless man who was likely asleep when he was killed, HPD says

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Thursday, June 15, 2023
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 39-year-old man has been arrested and charged with murder after a 66-year-old homeless man was beaten to death earlier in June.

Richard Denton Needham was charged four days after the June 3 murder of Lawrence Jirucha.

According to Det. Keith Lovelace with HPD, officers responded to the 400 block of Franklin near Bagby Street at about 6:30 a.m. after a passing driver found a man unresponsive.

The victim, now identified as Jirucha, had suffered severe trauma. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

At the time of the autopsy, which determined Jirucha died of blunt force trauma to his face and head, no suspect was in custody. However, investigators identified Needham as the suspect and charged him on June 7.

According to charging documents, the victim was on his back, so he was "likely asleep at the time of his death."

The beating was caught on surveillance video from 713 Music Hall.

Jirucha had set up his sleeping area just before 9 p.m., but the next morning at about 4:36 a.m., a man wearing dark clothing approached him, assaulted him and walked away, the documents said, adding that though the suspect left, he later came back.

In one of the videos, Needham "is seen holding a large pipe or pole in his left hand.... the object extends past his leg," the documents read.

Police tracked down Needham after going to Ecclesia Church nearby and asking if anyone recognized him. He was identified as someone who frequented church and homeless outreach events, but he had been banned because of combative behavior.

On June 14, METRO police officers arrested Needham without incident

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