Josue Flores: Five years later and nobody has been tried for his murder

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Today marks five years since 11-year-old Josue Flores was murdered while walking home from school on Houston's north side.

But, all these years later, nobody has yet been tried for the crime.

"Nobody heard his cries for help. It's like five years later, it's like nobody is still hearing him," said Josue's sister, Lupita Flores. "He's still crying out for help and nobody is not even batting an eye."

It was May 17, 2016, around 4:45 pm.

Surveillance video shows Flores walking home from a science party at Marshall Middle School.

Then, Richard Guerra, who was inside his home, heard a horrifying sound from the sidewalk.

"He said, 'Please, please take everything, Don't kill me, please,'" Guerra remembers. "That's when I said, 'Oh my God, something is really happening.'"

Guerra says he saw a man stabbing Josue.

"He grabbed his jacket and you could see blood," Guerra said. "He grabbed it like this and he started running."

Guerra looked down at Josue.

"'Mijo, are you alright?' He said, 'Yeah, I just want to go home, I want to go home.' He tried to walk right here. He took a couple of steps, then he went back this way, knelt down, and laid down."

Guerra flagged down other drivers to help Josue, and he got in his car and started chasing after the man who had stabbed Josue.

Unfortunately, the man got away.

Josue had been stabbed more than twenty times and died at the hospital.

The next day, police arrested a man based on witness tips.

But, they had to let him go two days later after his alibi checked out.

Three weeks after that, Houston Police arrested former Marine Andre Jackson.

A year later, charges against Jackson were dropped after DNA tests on his jacket came back inconclusive.

Jackson proclaimed his innocence.

"I'm just tired of hearing my name associated with this case," he said in a recorded video he posted to Youtube.

Then, in 2019, Houston Police's Cold Case Unit took up the case.

"This is one of the most horrific crimes that you can investigate. The intentional killing of a child," said Sgt. Richard Rodriguez.

The team re-tested Jackson's jacket using new, more sensitive technology.

"The evidence came back positive that there was Josue's blood on the defendant's jacket," Sgt. Rodriguez said. "Three years had elapsed, and as you know, DNA technology has advanced a lot just in those three years."

Sgt. Rodriguez has spent hours interviewing Jackson and reading his journals.

"I'm not a psychiatrist, I'm not a psychologist, I'm just going off what I feel as an investigator," he said. "I think when he was out and about, everything just kind of came together at one time and for whatever reason he just snapped. Unfortunately, Josue was just at the wrong place at the wrong time and he was just a truly helpless, innocent victim that he could have complete control over, which is what he did. He controlled him and took over and took away his life."

Jackson was indicted by a Grand Jury in 2019, and is now charged with murder for the second time.

But, it's been two years since then, and Jackson is still in jail, awaiting trail. He is due in court on June 10, and his trial is scheduled for October 22.

If Josue were alive today, he would be 16, old enough to help his two older sisters and take care of his three younger brothers.

One of the reasons for the delay, according to the District Attorney, is the coronavirus pandemic.

From March 2020 to March 2021, there were only eight district court felony trials held in Harris County.

Jackson's case has been rescheduled.

"This case is incredibly important to us. We will never forget young Josue and we remain focused on delivering justice for his family, friends and the community. Unfortunately the pandemic has caused trial delays nationwide," a statement from the DA's office reads.

But, for Josue's family, justice feels overdue.

"He's just a name on a paper now to them. That name just went into a pile of papers," Lupita said. "Everybody is still getting their checks, whether they get it done or not and I just don't think it's fair."

The family no longer lives in the neighborhood.

And a volunteer group dedicated to making sure kids walk home from school safely has been abandoned over the years.

"You'll see that a lot of blinds are closed. There's nobody really looking through the windows. It hurts. It hurts. It does," said Jose Vega with LULAC. "This wasn't just a child that belonged to the Flores family. It was a US citizen that belonged to Texas. Who belonged to Harris County, who belonged to Houston, to this community of the Northside."

"I wake up hearing his scream, scream, and I can't go to sleep or nothing," Guerra said. "Everybody is mad because everybody wants justice. It's been too long already."

"Those are examples that the community needs to see," added neighbor Jesus Cantu Medel. "That if people commit such a horrendous and insidious crime, the community needs to see that action is taken."

It's hard to know who to blame for the delays, and nobody knows if a conviction will even bring peace.

But, for this family, the past five years have felt like a kind of purgatory.

They don't know how to explain a murder that seems to make no sense, so they say they have no choice but to focus on Josue's life instead of his death.

"That's what motivated me to start working at an assisted living center," Lupita said. "What better place to do what you can to help others? Looking at his pictures and videos doesn't help. I try to encourage everybody to keep doing what he would have did. It makes me feel better. It makes it a little better."

She's now training to become a nurse, working to fulfill her brother's dreams of studying medicine.

Five years later, she hopes this is Josue's legacy.
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