Man charged in 1995 shooting of Galena Park HS cheerleader looks to clear his name, attorney says

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Arraignment set for man charged in Galena Park HS teen's 1995 murder
Arraignment set for man charged in Galena Park HS teen's 1995 murder

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A man accused of gunning down a 19-year-old Galena Park High School cheerleader 28 years ago in a drive-by had his court date rescheduled for later this year on Wednesday.

Jose Luis Rios, 47, is charged with murder in connection to the fatal shooting of Kirstie Martin and was expected to appear at 8:30 a.m.

According to officials, Rios was a passenger inside a red pickup truck that encountered Martin and her three friends at Riverside Terrance Park in Channelview on Dec. 23, 1995.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Officials arrest man accused of shooting Galena Park HS cheerleader at park 28 years ago

Martin and her friends were at the park after a late dinner when Rios and the driver, Jorge Mendez, approached them, but Martin advised her friends to leave.

That is when Rios allegedly opened fire at least five times, striking Martin in her back and wounding her other friend, Wendy, police said.

Investigators said both suspects fled to Mexico, but Mendez was eventually arrested in 2001 and sentenced to 31 years in prison.

Rios was tracked down by the Harris County Sheriff's Office and the FBI, leading to his August 2023 arrest in Mexico. He was extradited to the U.S. in December.

Investigators said it is believed that Rios and Mendez were gang members.

The suspect's attorney said Rios claims he was not involved and looks forward to clearing his name during trial.

If Rios is convicted, he faces the possibility of life in prison, officials said. His new court appearance is April 1, 2024.

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