No Bill for Man who Mistakenly Shot 9 Year Old During Robbery

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)-— On February 14, 2022, at about 9:45 p.m., in Houston, Texas, Tony Earls and his wife were robbed at an ATM machine. They were depositing money, from the inside of their car. The robber stuck a gun in their faces and took $20 and a check, their car keys and a wallet, according to KHOU.com:

Surveillance video captured the armed robber approaching Tony Earls and his wife as they were depositing money into an ATM. He pointed a gun at the wife’s face and demanded money, their car keys and wallet, investigators said. 

Both Earls and his wife complied.

As shown in the surveillance video, the robber then fled the scene. Tony was armed. He left his car to retrieve the car keys the robber had thrown. The robber appears to have turned and fired at Tony, but there is no audio in the surveillance video.

Tony’s attorney, Dunn, said Tony heard a gunshot and fired at a vehicle he thought contained the robber.  From Khou.com on 21 February, 2022:

Dunn said Earls got out of the car to retrieve the keys, and that’s when the robber pulled a gun and fired one shot at him. Dunn said his client returned fire, and as he was doing so, a vehicle was driving by slowly. Earls thought the vehicle was part of a group that had just robbed them and got back into his car, according to his attorney.

Dunn said his client got back into the car, and at that point, the vehicle he had noticed began to back up slowly. That’s when he said Earls got back out of his car and fired two shots at the vehicle, striking Arlene.

There is an essential adage for people who carry firearms for defense of themselves and others, in the United States:

Every bullet has a lawyer attached.

Shooting profligately without a clear understanding of where your bullets will end up creates significant legal and ethical dangers.  Making a mistake of judgment, in a densely populated area puts others at risk. In this case, the mistake cost a nine-year-old girl, Arlene Alvarez, her life.

All parties to the event underwent life-changing stress. A Houston businessman has put up a $25,000 reward (crime stoppers added another $5,000) for the arrest of the robber who sparked the tragic series of events. The Alvarez family will never be the same. Tony Earls’ life will never be the same.

Texas has a system for the prosecution of homicides which can remove much of the judgment from the prosecutor and place it on a grand jury. Grand juries are presented with the evidence, and the grand jury decides if there is enough evidence to charge the individual with the crimes presented to them.

In the Earls case, the grand jury reviewed the evidence and came to the conclusion that Earls did not act recklessly or with evil intent. When the grand jury refuses to indict, the action is called a “no bill.”

The Harris County grand jury “no billed” Tony Earls. From spectrumlocalnews.com:

Tony Earls, 41, had been charged with aggravated assault, serious bodily injury, in Alvarez’s Feb. 14 death. A Harris County grand jury in Houston on Tuesday could have indicted him on this charge or several others, including manslaughter and murder, but declined to do so.

This case shows how complex self-defense and defense of others can be. The lives of several individuals were all put at risk by the actions of a robber, who gained $20. A nine-year-old girl lost her life.

It also shows the advantages of the grand jury system in Texas. While grand juries can be, and often are, manipulated by prosecutors in Texas, in this case, the jury was willing to go against the media narrative calling for the prosecution of Tony Earls. They looked at all the evidence and concluded there was not enough there for prosecution.

Everyone involved is calling for a felony homicide charge against the robber who ran from the scene.

In spite of the $30,000 reward, he remains unidentified at the time of this writing.

The ATM was the scene of previous robberies.  In October of 2021, a 49-year-old woman (Mary Jane Gonzalez) was killed near the ATM with a single shot to the head. It is believed the robber obtained $40.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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Bill

KNOW your target (and what’s behind it)!

swmft

important rule in shooting ,and golf

Hatman1793

Given the details listed in the story above, & even under the circumstances as presented it seems to me that the Grand Jury wantonly ignored Earls deliberate shots after the robbery was over. IMHO Earls should have not fired the two shots at a vehicle that probably just stopped to find out what was transpiring. He couldn’t even positively identify the perps car, he just open fire at a random vehicle. A 9 YO girl lost her life to Earls recklessness & revenge motivated actions. Earls behaviour was not a Stand-your-ground event either. He should have just stood down &… Read more »

Wild Bill

There should be no automatic outcomes in our trial system.

MikeRoss

Mr. Earl made a bad mistake and was lucky he had a sympathetic grand jury. He’ll probably still be facing civil charges, which in this case would be the right outcome.

Rowboat

Houston, we have a 13%er problem.

Hazcat

Earls should have been tried. ‘I thought…” is not a valid defense, IMO.

Last edited 13 days ago by Hazcat
Bigfootbob

The Earls were. You must mean convicted. Mr. Earls was arrested and booked. The Earls experienced a Grand Jury inquiry which is very intense, especially a criminal grand jury, unless you’ve ever sat at the head of a grand jury table, you’ll never understand how your life hangs by every word you utter. The fact the grand jury didn’t indict, says to me, this was a very tragic accident committed by a genuinely innocent, not that he’s not responsible he pulled the trigger, remorseful citizen defending his and his wife’s lives. Those 12 neighbors held his life in their hands… Read more »

Xaun Loc

As you note, the article says “grand juries can be, and often are, manipulated by prosecutors in Texas” — the author could just as easily omitted the “in Texas” and the “can be, and often” part because every grand jury everywhere is always manipulated by prosecutors. While this grand jury apparently went “against the media narrative” I would by 99% certain that the prosecutor who presented the case wasn’t trying to get an indictment or at least wasn’t trying hard.

swmft

or people are tiring of the bs and have stopped listening to prosecutors ,in which case almost all grand jury cases will be tossed

MS-Steve

I contend……. dozens of killings in urban areas are committed daily…. for LESS THAN $20.