HOUSTON – The case of Josue Flores still tugs at many Houstonian’s hearts and brings up emotions for some of Harris County’s most seasoned prosecutors. In this episode of the national-award-winning show ‘The Evidence Room,’ we explore how a murderer was brought to justice and the unique way Josue’s case is remembered today.
Harris County Prosecutor John Jordan remembers Josue told his teacher he was a ‘big boy’ and could walk himself home. Jordan’s co-counsel, Chris Condon, remembers a veteran homicide detective warned him, ‘the kids don’t leave you.’
Josue was only 11 years old when he was stabbed to death while walking home from Marshall Middle School in May of 2016. Police said a witness heard Josue screaming, “Please don’t kill me.”
“For somebody within seconds to come across an 11-year-old child and brutally murder them, it’s hard to even get your head around it,” Jordan tells KPRC 2 Investigator Robert Arnold.
Law enforcement quickly arrested Che Calhoun for Josue’s murder. However, the charges against Calhoun were dropped within two days after police confirmed his alibi.
“This (arrest) was before, I guess, the analysis of all of the footage and the neighborhood,” Jordan said. “Immediately, the officers followed up on that alibi. And thankfully, he was on surveillance in a faraway area of town at the time the crime occurred. So the case was quickly dismissed.”
Security camera footage used to track suspect
Less than three weeks after Calhoun was arrested and released, police arrested Andre Jackson. The arrest came after investigators analyzed a network of security cameras. The footage traced Josue’s and Jackson’s routes through the neighborhood at the time of the murder. The only ‘blind spot’ was the specific location where Josue was killed.
Jordan says several cameras showed an African-American man running away from the spot of Josue’s death. The person in the video is seen wearing a green-colored jacket with unusual lettering on the back.
“HPD had some of the surveillance video that they captured that was kind of a, it’s like an overhead view of a side street not too far away from the Salvation Army, and as Andre Jackson was fleeing the stabbing, he ran underneath the surveillance camera. You could see very clearly one angle. You could see his face, but you could also see very clearly the jacket in the back, and you could see it said like ‘J.B. Lyman’ lettering on the back of the jacket,” Condon tells us. “They released that photograph to the public, and this man who ran a [convenience store] recognized the jacket.”
Jordan and Condon said the owner showed police video of a man matching Jackson’s description. He was wearing a distinct jacket coming into the business before Josue’s murder and using an ATM. Jordan said investigators then obtained those ATM records which provided investigators with Jackson’s name.
Police officers would arrest Jackson at the Salvation Army. Crime scene photos show the green-colored jacket in the very room he was sleeping in.
“It was it was like a gift from God. I mean, if he had just been dressed normally and didn’t have a distinguishing jacket, I don’t know if the crime would have ever been solved,” said Jordan.
Jackson denied killing Josue during a police interview.
During the interview, the detective tells Jackson, “The day the murder occurred was Tuesday, May 17th.”
“Is this me on the 17th?” Jackson asks regarding a picture taken from a surveillance video.
“Yes. That is you on the 17th,” the detective responds.
Despite what Jordan and Condon called a “strong circumstantial case,” Jackson had to be released in July 2017.
The prosecutors say the decision to dismiss the murder charges was made when testing on the jacket came back ‘inconclusive’ for Josue’s DNA.
“You only have one opportunity to try a case, and if you try it and you don’t have all the evidence, you’re going to second guess yourself if you don’t have the right result,” said Jordan.
Two years after his release, police still publicly named Jackson as the prime suspect in Josue’s murder. Jackson responded with a 10-minute video he uploaded to YouTube in May 2019.
“They are just trying to save face and console the community, and they’re going about it in the wrong way by trying to disseminate false hope that one day I will be proven as Josue Flores’s killer. I am not his killer,” Jackson said.
DNA testing helps advance case
The case got new life when an investigator with HPD’s cold case squad learned of advances in DNA testing.
“There was a homicide investigator named Rich Rodriguez that’s called the ‘cop who wouldn’t quit.’ He was sitting in a homicide conference, I think it was in Atlanta, and someone from DNA International, a private company out of Florida, was giving a presentation on what they have developed in the private industry as opposed to the government on a little bit more sophisticated DNA testing,” said Jordan. “He immediately thought of a case that he had been assigned because it was a cold case and said, ‘Maybe that could help us.’”
The more advanced testing showed Josue’s DNA was on the cuffs of Jackson’s jacket. Jackson was arrested again and charged in June 2019. Jackson was convicted of Josue’s murder in May 2022 and sentenced to life in prison.
Typically, criminal cases take on the last name of the defendant, but in this case, it’s the only one in Harris County that’s remembered as the ‘Josue Flores’ case.
Since his passing, The Josue Flores Act was passed giving transportation funding to children who live within walking distance of schools but are in dangerous neighborhoods. The city renamed an area park after Josue. METRO named a bus stop after him that sits in front of the high school he would have attended.
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