Both sides rest in murder trial for 2016 stabbing of middle schooler

Mycah Hatfield Image
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Both sides rest in murder trial for 2016 stabbing of middle schooler
In total, the state called 33 witness and the defense called three, two of which had previously testified. Here's what happened as both sides rested in the murder trial as reported by ABC13's Mycah Hatfield.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Both the prosecution and the defense rested on day 6 in the trial concerning the killing of Josue Flores.

Josue, 11, was stabbed to death more than 20 times on May 17, 2016, on his way home from school, and more than five years later, the trial is finally underway. Andre Jackson is charged with murder and has steadfastly maintained his claim of innocence.

The video featured above is from a previous report.

In total, the state called 33 witness and the defense called three, two of which had previously testified.

RELATED: More than 10 witnesses asked to recall stabbing of 11-year-old Josue Flores

There was drama in court before opening statements even began as the judge was asked to make a decision about a crucial piece of evidence -- a green jacket.

The day started with a high ranking member of DNA Labs International in Florida being called back to the stand first thing Monday morning. The witness said their lab was sent a quantitation list of extracts from HPD, how much liquid was in each tube sent, a little bit of case background, the Texas DPS testing reports dated July 10, 2017 and notes from a supervisor with the DPS lab.

She testified that they were able to get results from an extract of DNA from Jackson's sleeve cuffs that DPS had not been able to get conclusive results on.

The private lab concluded that there was "extremely strong support," which is their highest level of support, that DNA found on the jacket belonged to Jackson, Josue and another unknown individual.

She testified that 85 percent of the DNA found belonged to Jackson, 10 percent to Flores and 5 percent to an unknown third party. The DNA did not come from a known blood, semen or saliva stain.

SEE ALSO: Search for justice: Timeline of Josue Flores murder case

How Josue Flores' brutal murder case has unfolded: TIMELINE

A member of the DPS lab testified in previous days that they used one swab to collect DNA from the inside and outside of the cuffs of Jackson's jacket sleeves.

The HPD homicide cold case sergeant who contacted the private lab in Florida and sent them DNA extracts returned to the stand on Monday as well. He was assigned the case in March of 2019.

"Whenever you have a young child murdered, you tend to look at those harder because of the victim," the HPD sergeant said.

He said after they received the DNA results, they presented them to the DA's office, who took it to a grand jury. After the jury true-billed Jackson, a warrant was issued for his arrest and he was arrested the next day.

Jackson's interview with police at the time of his second arrest was not played for jurors, after more than an hour and a half of discussion about it.

The sergeant said Jackson said in 2019 that he was going to the library at the time. A roommate of his at the Salvation Army had reportedly given him directions around the time of the offense using the Fiesta and Walgreens as a point of reference.

In his interview in 2016 after being asked several times, Jackson told the lead detective on the case that he was headed to Walgreens or Fiesta at the time of Josue's murder but did not elaborate.

The final witness the state called was Josue's mother, Maria Flores. She answered questions only from the state through a Spanish translator.

She said her son, who was 11 years old at the time of his murder, liked school a lot and wanted to be a doctor. She said he would have been 18 years old this summer.

Jurors were shown a photo of Josue during the testimony.

Josue's mother said she was sick the day he was murdered. He had stayed late at school that day because of an end of the year science fair party.

Maria Flores said that afternoon, she got a call saying her son was bleeding. She asked what happened and was told he was stabbed.

The mother said she grabbed her ID and went to where her son was, which was only about two blocks from their home. By the time she arrived, Josue was already in the back of the ambulance. She rode in the front of the ambulance with him to the hospital. When they arrived, she saw the doors of the ambulance open and testified that she remembered thinking "My son is already dead."

She waited inside a room in the hospital that day until several doctors told her they had done all they could for Josue but that he had passed away.

Maria Flores recalls having to tell her husband and brother-in-law the news. Her husband was in the courtroom listening to her testify and broke down in tears.

After Maria Flores left the stand, the state rested.

Defense attorneys only called three witnesses to the stand.

The first was a highly accomplished DNA expert of their own who retired as a professor from the University of North Texas in 2021.

He was given a few hundred pages of reports, he said, that included DPS reports, Houston Forensic Science reports and reports from DNA Labs International.

He testified from the reports that one of the shirts, either Josue's or Jackson's, collected as evidence grew mold on it within a year of being collected, according to a report from the Houston Forensic Sciences Center. The expert suspected that the evidence bag was not properly closed, which allowed moisture in. He said this was not common with evidence.

The former professor was asked about the practice used by the DPS lab to use one swab for the inside and outside of both cuffs of Jackson's jacket. He said it leaves out information that has "potential significant relevance" in the case. He said if Josue's DNA was found on both sleeves, it would paint a different picture than if it was found on one.

He spoke at length about secondary transfers of DNA and was questioned by the defense about possible scenarios where DNA could have been transferred from the actual killer to Jackson.

"It is possible you have someone on trial and he wore an object or came in contact with an article of clothing that he could have obtained DNA of a victim if his roommate came into contact with the assailant?" a defense attorney asked.

The witness responded with "yes" but said it depends on how much DNA was found. In this case, he said it was not a lot.

The state questioned the witness about his experience. He said he had not worked in a forensic lab previously but has observed them and taught classes on it.

The expert said DNA Labs International got a "pretty nice profile" of Jackson based on their findings and while Josue's was "less" they still got a "pretty good profile."

During his testimony, the witness said that context is important when dealing with DNA.

The state then asked the witness if Jackson fitting the description of the killer, being caught on surveillance video running the opposite direction of the scene around the time of the murder and having Josue's DNA on his jacket was enough context.

The witness said it is a "logical explanation" and a "simple explanation" but not the only explanation.

Defense attorneys recalled a woman to the stand who lived across from the scene of the crime at the time that it happened. She previously testified for the state.

She said through a Spanish translator that the neighborhood had been dealing with issues involving the Salvation Army at the time of the murder. She said that they had seen homeless people from the Salvation Army robbing people in their neighborhood and it brought anger and hostility from residents toward the organization.

Defense attorneys brought the HPD cold case detective back to the stand to ask if he or his team looked at Jackson's roommate at the Salvation Army as a possible suspect at the time of the murder.

The detective said they did not because he did not fit the description of the suspect and was 60 years old at the time of the crime.

Jackson's attorneys brought up that he was convicted of robbery in 2019.

Before both sides officially rested, each side called up their DNA expert again and questioned the others at length.

Officially, both sides rested just before 6 p.m. Monday.

Jurors will return to court Tuesday morning to hear closing arguments and begin deliberations.

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