A grieving Texas mom has ripped a grand jury after it refused to charge the man who killed her 9-year-old daughter when he opened fire after being the victim of a robbery.
“What is wrong with all of you guys?” Gwen Alvarez asked after the decision not to charge Tony Earls, 41, who police say believed his robber got into the family’s pickup and fired the shots that killed fourth-grader Arlene Alvarez.
“There are a lot of children dying. Our future is dying. … Where is the humanity? Where is your heart? Where is your soul?”
Earls had opened fire after being robbed at gunpoint at a Houston ATM on Valentine’s Day while with his wife, police and prosecutors said.
But rather than hitting the robber, a bullet pierced the Alvarezes’ pickup as they headed to dinner, fatally striking the 9-year-old girl in the head. She died the next day.
Earls was originally charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, but the grand jury ruled against pressing charges because he was also a victim of a crime. The decision means he cannot be charged again.
“He gets to see the light. My daughter still doesn’t,” Alvarez’s mom said at the emotional press conference.
“My daughter is still down, underground. I don’t know if she is even good spiritually,” she said, saying she is haunted by watching her daughter getting fatally shot in front of her.
“I lived that moment, and I go back to that day every night. And I know what happened,” she said.
The dead girl’s aunt, April Aguirre, said the family feels “defeated because they so quickly came to a decision that we don’t agree with.”
“Arlene was murdered, and we will never get her back,” Aguirre said. “Arlene will forever be frozen in time as a fourth grader. She will forever be 9.”
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg admitted that the grand jury’s decision was “very difficult for the Alvarez Family to accept.”
“Our hearts go out to the Alvarez family because Arlene’s death is a tragedy that is unimaginable,” Ogg said.
She said that her office was now “focusing all of our efforts on finding the suspect who set this chain of events in motion,” with a $30,000 reward for the armed robber who Earl had allegedly tried to stop.
Earls’ attorneys told ABC7 in a statement that they were “happy with the grand jury’s finding in this case,” praising the “careful deliberation” it took.
“Mr. Earls did what we believe anyone in that situation would have done,” the attorneys, Brennen Dunn and Myrecia Donaldson, said.
“We are relieved that, despite the emotion and tough decisions that had to be made in dealing with this case, justice was served for Mr. Earls.”
Still, “there is no greater loss than that of a loved one, and we continue to grieve for the loss of such a beautiful soul,” Earls’ attorneys said.
“While that life weighs heavy on us, we are happy with the grand jury’s finding in this case.”
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