HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Shannon Miles, the man accused of fatally shooting Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, appeared in court Monday to face a charge of capital murder, and the district attorney revealed new details in the case.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson outlined the probable cause against Miles in front of Judge Denise Collins in 208th District Court.
Anderson said a witness saw a man sitting in a red Ford Ranger pickup truck last Friday night at a gas station on West Road in northwest Harris County.
The witness said Goforth had just pumped gas into his patrol car, then went inside the store. While returning to his vehicle, Anderson said surveillance video shows a man wearing a white T-shirt and red shorts get out of the pickup and run up behind Goforth as the deputy was walking back to his vehicle.
Anderson said surveillance shows the man putting a gun to the back of Goforth's head and firing. She said the deputy then falls to the ground and the man shoots him multiple times while he's down.
"And as you see the video, you see the male get out of the car, he's wearing a white t-shirt, red shorts, tennis shoes, and he runs up behind Deputy Goforth and puts the gun to the back of his head and shoots. Deputy Goforth hits the ground and then he continues to unload his gun, shooting repeatedly into the back of Deputy Goforth," Anderson said.
The man then gets back into the pickup and drives off.
According to Anderson, the video and witnesses confirmed to investigators that the pickup had an after-market trailer hitch and a white cooler in the bed of the truck.
Anderson said investigators ran vehicle registration for red Ford Ranger pickup trucks in the same ZIP code as the gas station and got a match at an address on Pine Falls.
Authorities spotted the truck with a similar trailer hitch in the driveway at the residence.
A man answered the door and told authorities that the truck belonged to his brother, who had just left with his mother.
The mother and Miles returned home, and Anderson said Miles admitted that the truck was his.
When asked if he owned any guns, Anderson said that Miles told authorities he owned a 40mm pistol that was stored in a blue bag in his garage.
Deputies got a search warrant and found the gun, which was empty, and the white cooler.
Anderson said ballistics testing showed the gun matched the shell casings found at the gas station.
"The gun holds 14 in its magazine, and one in the chamber. Fifteen shell casings, you can do the math. He unloaded the entire pistol into Deputy Goforth," Anderson said. "In addition there is a witness who viewed a video lineup with the defendant in it and he positively identified Shannon Miles as the shooter."
Authorities have called Goforth's shooting an unprovoked, execution-style ambush.
Monday morning's court appearance was the first for Miles.
"Judge Collins is a veteran jurist who has presided over a number of high-profile cases, including a number of death penalty cases," KPRC 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said Sunday.
Wice said the judge will appoint two attorneys to represent Miles in a case that could ultimately cost him his life if he is found guilty.
"He'll be appointed not one but two A-list lawyers who are certified to try death penalty cases," Wice said.
Anthony Osso, one of Miles' court-appointed attorneys, said his client intends to plead not guilty.
"He had indicated to the investigating officers that he was not involved in the case," Osso told The Associated Press Monday in a phone interview after Miles appeared briefly in court. "What I want to do is investigate the case and defend my client based on the facts of the case and not opinion in the public eye or rhetoric that's espoused on social media."
Miles is being held without bond.
Two to three weeks from now, the case will be brought before a Harris County grand jury where it is expected Miles will be indicted. A trial could still be a year or more away.
"The shooter in this case didn't see black, he didn't see white. He saw blue," Wice said. "That's what this case is about. In another year, the DA's office is going to ask 12 Harris County citizens to probably ask this defendant to pay with his life for this execution."
KPRC 2 has learned that Miles attended Cypress Falls High School and graduated in 2003. From there, it appears he pursued a career in business management. According to what appears to be his Facebook page, he attended the University of Houston from January to May 2011, studying hotel management.
The Facebook said Miles studied accounting at HCC from January 2006 to May 2008. He claims to have studied business at Texas Southern University from 2004 to 2005 and business management at Prairie View A&M University from 2003 to 2004.
Miles' mother, who asked to have her identity hidden, said Miles had a job and lived with her.
President Barack Obama released a statement about Goforth's killing Monday that read:
"This afternoon, on my way to Alaska, I called Kathleen Goforth, the widow of Harris County Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth - a veteran law enforcement officer who was contemptibly shot and killed over the weekend. On behalf of the American people, I offered Mrs. Goforth my condolences, and told her that Michelle and I would keep her and her family in our prayers. I also promised that I would continue to highlight the uncommon bravery that police officers show in our communities every single day. They put their lives on the line for our safety. Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable - an affront to civilized society. As I said in my State of the Union Address, we've got to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of the wife who won't rest until the police officer she married walks through the door at the end of his shift. That comfort has been taken from Mrs. Goforth. So we must offer her our comfort - and continue to stand up for the safety of police officers wherever they serve."
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