Murder charge filed against man in wheelchair accused of sniper-style attack from balcony

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Charges against a southeast Houston man have been upgraded to murder now that the woman he's accused of targeting with an assault rifle from the balcony of his apartment has died.

M.L. Burks, 58, was arrested after the Oct. 21, 2016 attack in the 4600 block of Balkin near a corner store.

According to court documents, Burks was recorded on video by one eyewitness that day telling the victim he would "shoot the (expletive) out you" and "I'ma (sic)blow your (expletive) off."

The victim, Rhonda Davis, was shot once in the neck, a short time after that confrontation. She died July 23, 2017, eight months after the attack. Investigators say doctors told them she had been paralyzed and that bullet fragments remained near the base of her neck.

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Man in wheelchair accused of murdering woman.

"He shot her from up there," said Davis' friend, who asked us to identify him as "C-Bear." "He was staying in the top apartment up there...he had a sniper," C-Bear said. "He killed an innocent woman for nothing."

Court records indicate police previously found an "SKS/AK47 type rifle" with a scope in Burks' apartment. He told police he is a "weapons expert from the military" and that he could hit "...up to a half a mile with a rifle and a scope and without a scope he could do 200 meters."

According to the Harris County District Attorney's Office, Burks served in the U.S. Army.

Police estimate the distance between his balcony and the store near where Davis was shot was no more than 123 yards.

Burks insisted to police that he did not have a clear line of sight to shoot the victim from his balcony.

Burks remains behind bars, in lieu of nearly $900,000 bond. He has a history of felony offenses, including a prior conviction for murder in 1984.

"In 1985, M.L. Burks was convicted of gunning down Marcus Toran in a public park in broad daylight. The judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison," Assistant District Attorney Steve Driver said.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Burks was released in August of 2000 on mandatory supervision and was discharged from it in December of 2001.

"Then, 32 years later, Burks proved he has not changed and remains a very dangerous and violent criminal. On Oct. 21, 2016, he shot Rhonda Davis with a sniper rifle at long range while she stood in a public area. Ms. Davis did not die immediately. Instead she suffered for many months before succumbing to the injuries Burks inflicted. Burks was given a second chance at life, but spat in the face of the community that tried to rehabilitate him. It's time for him to pay for his crimes and to be held to account for the lives he has destroyed. We at the Harris County District Attorney's Office intend to see that justice is done," Driver added.

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