Suspect in woman's 2023 murder in Houston escapes courthouse in Mississippi, authorities say

Mycah Hatfield Image
Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Houston murder suspect escapes courthouse in Mississippi
Joshua Zimmerman, accused of killing Keyanna Mercer in Houston in 2023, is on the run after escaping a Mississippi prison, authorities said.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A man charged with murdering a woman in Houston in 2023 walked out of the doors of a courthouse in Mississippi on Friday and is now on the run, according to authorities.

Joshua Zimmerman, 30, is accused of killing 23-year-old Keyanna Mercer at the Red Carpet Inn at 6868 Hornwood on Sept. 2, 2023.

He was captured on Sept. 29, 2023, by officers with the Southaven Police Department in Mississippi on separate felony charges, including attempted murder, armed robbery, felon in possession of a firearm, and a charge in relation to the theft of a car.

Houston police said he would eventually be extradited back to Harris County.

On Friday, De Soto County District Attorney Matthew Barton said Zimmerman was being brought to the courthouse for a hearing with several other inmates.

As Zimmerman and the other inmates walked up the stairs toward the courtroom in jail uniforms and ankle and wrist shackles, Zimmerman was able to leave the single-file line without anyone noticing. Barton said Zimmerman went through an unlocked door into another hallway, where he completely changed clothes and removed his shackles.

Surveillance video captured portions of Zimmerman's escape. He is seen leaving the courthouse in khaki pants, a white shirt, and a khaki headpiece.

Barton said he was not given an explanation for how this could have happened. He said Zimmerman is a career criminal who needs to be caught immediately.

U.S. Marshals are involved in the search for Zimmerman, who has ties in Memphis and Connecticut.

In the Houston case, people in neighboring rooms and employees of the motel reported to police that there had been violent fights happening between Zimmerman and Mercer prior to her death. Mercer was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in the doorway of the room. Charging documents note that Zimmerman's possessions had been left behind, but he was gone.

Charging documents specifically said that Mercer's whereabouts were being tracked by law enforcement out of Connecticut because she was believed to be traveling with a known fugitive who was using multiple fake identities.

Zimmerman had been convicted in Connecticut in 2018 of criminal possession of a firearm.

A $10,000 reward is being offered for his capture. Those with information are asked to call 1-800-336-0102.

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