Man gets life without parole for killing a father in front of his daughter at Dave & Buster’s near Spring Branch

Investigators said they were able to identify Nicholas Dwayne Thomas as the killer after his toddler shot himself with the same gun that Thomas used to kill the victim.

Nicholas Dwayne Thomas, 26 (Harris County DA Kim Ogg's Office)

HOUSTON – A Houston man was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing a 37-year-old father during an armed robbery outside of a theater complex near Spring Branch in 2021, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Monday.

Nicholas Dwayne Thomas, 26, was convicted of capital murder by a Harris County jury late Friday and automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole for shooting 37-year-old Miguel Vasquez on April 4.

37-year-old Miguel Vasquez (Harris County DA Kim Ogg's Office)

“Gun violence continues to tear apart our community because criminals like this man specifically intend to rob, hurt and kill others,” Ogg said. “Our job is to seek justice, and jurors agreed that this killer should never be on the street again.”

Investigators said they were able to identify Thomas as the killer after his toddler apparently shot himself with the same gun that Thomas used to kill Vasquez. The toddler survived.

On the day of the murder, authorities said Vasquez and his 10-year-old daughter were leaving Dave and Buster’s at the Marq-E Entertainment Center on the Katy Freeway. Thomas reportedly approached Vasquez with his gun drawn and put the man in a chokehold while demanding his watch. Thomas then shot and killed Vasquez and fled the scene, authorities said.

Four days later, Ogg said Thomas’ toddler was shot once in the leg with the bullet going all the way through the child’s leg. Thomas took the child to the hospital and cooperated with authorities investigating the accidental shooting.

Investigators said the gun from that shooting was turned over to authorities and tested by technicians at the Houston Forensic Science Center. The ballistics information from the gun was entered into a federal database known as NIBIN  ̶  National Integrated Ballistics Information Network, which is a ballistics testing and comparison program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

When the gun from the accidental shooting matched the gun used in the Vasquez slaying, Ogg said the Houston Forensic Science Center contacted the Houston Police Department’s homicide division and Thomas was arrested for the murder.

After further testing, Thomas’ DNA was allegedly found on the victim’s watch and Thomas’ fingerprints were found on the victim’s car. Cell phone records also showed that Thomas was in the area at the time of the murder, authorities said.

Assistant District Attorney Chandler Raine, who is assigned to the DA’s Homicide Unit, and ADA Natalia Leon prosecuted the case in a two-day trial.

“More than 30 members of the victim’s family sat through the trial because he was a beloved husband and father of two who will never get to see his children grow up,” Raine said. “We were honored to be responsible for seeing that justice was done for this family, and are thankful to the jury for their service and attentiveness, which led to the right verdict.”


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