This undated image provided the Harris County Sheriff's Office shows Eric Black Jr. Prosecutors said Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, that the shooting death of a 7-year-old black girl as she rode in her family's vehicle stemmed from a case of mistaken identity. Prosecutors charged Black in the Dec. 30 death of Jazmine Barnes. (Harris County Sheriff's Office via AP)

Man charged with murder in death of 7-year-old Houston girl

A 20-year-old man in Texas was arrested Saturday and charged in the death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was shot and killed while riding in a car with her family in Houston. Another man is being held in connection with the shooting but has not yet been charged, a lawyer for the girl’s family said.

MORE: Houston community honors 7-year-old driveby shooting victim 

Eric Black Jr., 20, was charged with capital murder and appeared in court early Sunday morning, wearing handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. He was ordered held without bail. A prosecutor said Black admitted to driving the car when his passenger opened fire.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Barnes family, told CBS News another suspect had also been arrested.

The shooting occured in Houston on Dec. 30 when a car pulled alongside the vehicle carrying Barnes and her family and a gunman opened fire. Jazmine died of a gunshot wound to the head, and her mother was hit in the arm.

Jazmine Barnes – Photo via Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

LaPorsha Washington, Jazmine’s mother, said in the days following the shooting that she believed it was racially motivated. Her daughter, who was also in the car, initially said the shooter was a white man in a red truck, and police released an artist’s sketch Thursday showing a thin, white man with a 5 o’clock shadow. Black, the alleged driver, is African American. The full name of the alleged gunman is not yet known.

A prosecutor presented details of the case against Black at the Sunday morning hearing at Probable Cause Court in downtown Houston. Appearing by video conference, the prosecutor said the Harris County sheriff had received an anonymous tip over email implicating two men identified as “LW” and “EB” in the shooting after authorities asked the public for help identifying the assailants.

The source told the sheriff the suspects thought the vehicle carrying Jazmine was another vehicle they had seen earlier in the day, the prosecutor said, and didn’t realize they had hit the wrong vehicle until seeing the news later that day.

The source provided the sheriff with the name of an Instagram account used by one of the suspects, which investigators determined belonged to Black, the prosecutor said.

On Saturday, police stopped Black in a grey Kia for failing to signal when changing lanes, and held him for suspected marijuana possession after a deputy said he saw a plastic bag with what appeared to be marijuana in his glove box when Black opened it to find his insurance card. The officer searched Black’s car, found more marijuana and detained him, the prosecutor said.

Eric Black Jr. appears in court for a probable cause hearing on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. ONSCENE.TV

Homicide detectives interviewed Black on Saturday, and the prosecutor said Black admitted to driving the vehicle involved in the shooting. Black told investigators “LW” — identified in court only as “Larry” — was seated in the front passenger seat of a rental car and fired at the vehicle carrying Jazmine. Black returned that rental car after the shooting and picked up the car he was driving when he was pulled over Saturday.

The prosecutor said in Sunday’s hearing that Black then agreed to a search of his residence, where police found a 9 mm pistol consistent with shell casings found at the site of the shooting.

Investigators plan to hold a news conference Sunday afternoon to provide more details on the charges. Authorities had offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

At a rally on Saturday, more than 500 people mourned Jazmine and helped raise money for the family.

Author: CBS News
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