Earlier fight led to suspects mistakenly shooting at vehicle of Jazmine Barnes' family, prosecutors say

Monday, January 7, 2019
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Eric Black, Jr. appears in court in connection with killing of Jazmine Barnes

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A second suspect could be charged soon in the murder of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes.

Eric Black Jr., 20, and 24-year-old Larry Woodruffe were arrested on Saturday.

An investigation tip led authorities to Black, who has been charged with capital murder. When he appeared in court on Sunday, it was revealed Jazmine and her family were the victims of mistaken identity, with the suspects believing they were firing at another vehicle.

On Monday, Black returned to court, where prosecutors said they believe the suspects opened fire on the car in retaliation for an earlier altercation that did not involve Jazmine or her family.

Investigators say her family is innocent in all of this.

Court documents show the suspects learned they'd fired at the wrong car after watching the news.

"We have a dead 7-year-old. It's incredibly tragic, and I look forward to going and being able to pursue justice on her behalf because no 7-year-old deserves this, no family deserves this, especially this time of year. I am happy that we have someone in custody at this point and charged and I look forward to continuing our investigation and seeking justice for Jazmine," said Assistant District Attorney Samantha Knecht.

Woodruffe appeared in court over the weekend on an unrelated drug possession charge, where a judge said he is also a suspect in the capital murder investigation. Sources told ABC13 Woodruffe is believed to be the shooter.

Investigators say a traffic stop was conducted on Jan. 5 at the 13600 block of Woodforest Boulevard on a 2007 Pontiac GC Woodruffe was driving for an obscured license plate and a defective light.

According to authorities, when they made contact with Woodruffe they detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from his vehicle. He was detained at the scene.

During a patdown search, officers say they found a plastic bottle containing 124 pills, some which they recognized to be Xanax.

A judge has set Woodruffe's bail to $100,000, but additional charges could be added.

Although two suspects are in custody, deputies say they're still working to tie up loose ends in the investigation.

The biggest question remains about who the man in the suspect sketch is that Jazmine's sisters described.

Deputies believe that person may have been a bystander at the crime scene and may have been the one driving a red pickup truck.

Investigators say they still want to talk to that man. They are still going through video and evidence to verify information in the case.

"It was a sigh of relief that police did their job and found who they feel is the right suspect," said Christopher Cevilla, Jazmine's father.

Black is being held without bail.

Funeral services for Jazmine will be held Tuesday at the Community of Faith Church at 1024 Pinemont Drive.

A viewing at 10 a.m. will be followed by a funeral at noon. The public is invited to attend.

Jazmine attended Monahan Elementary School in Sheldon ISD. Grief counselors will also be on campus Tuesday to comfort Jazmine's classmates.

The district's superintendent is expected to speak at her funeral.

A purple balloon release will be held after the service in honor of Jazmine and other murder victims in Houston and Harris County.

Her family is establishing a scholarship fund in her memory.


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