Andre Timothy Jackson had chosen state District Judge Denise Collins to sentence him instead of the jury that had found him guilty of murder on Tuesday in the death of Josue Flores.
Before being sentenced, the 33-year-old Jackson read a lengthy statement to Collins in which he offered his condolences to Josue’s family but continued to maintain his innocence and question the validity of the DNA evidence that helped convict him.
“I can assure you that I’m a man with a beautiful personality… I have traditional Christian Baptist values. I have ethics and morals that I’ve picked up from the Marine Corps and my own experience in life,” Jackson said.
Authorities say the sixth grader was killed as he walked home from a science club meeting at a school just north of downtown Houston on May 17, 2016. He was only two blocks from home when he was stabbed more than 20 times.
Witnesses told officers they heard loud screams and saw the boy struggling with a man. Prosecutors say they have not been able to determine a motive for the attack.
“Josue Flores is somebody that will always remain with us in our community because of the future that was lost. I think every parent, it’s their worst nightmare and we can’t imagine going through this,” Harris County Assistant District Attorney John Jordan, one of the prosecutors in the case, said after the sentence was handed down by the judge.
Prosecutors had told jurors the boy’s DNA was found on Jackson’s jacket, directly tying him to Josue’s death.
Police say the jacket was found in the room at the Salvation Army shelter where Jackson had been living in at the time of the killing. Surveillance video from the day of Josue’s death showed Jackson wearing the jacket.
Jackson’s attorneys had suggested to jurors the small amount of DNA found on the jacket was so small that it could have been transferred onto it by someone else at the shelter. Jackson’s attorneys said he didn’t match the physical description of the suspect seen by people who witnessed the killing and Jackson had no history of violence.
The Marine Corps veteran was first arrested weeks after Josue’s killing. But prosecutors dropped the charge in 2017, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to try Jackson or uphold a conviction.
He was rearrested in 2019 after prosecutors said newly tested DNA evidence connected him to the killing.
Jackson wasn’t the first person charged in the case.
A 31-year-old man with a long criminal history was charged days after the killing, but that charge was dropped when detectives found evidence to support his alibi.
By Juan A. Lozano