San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 18th, 2009
Police still investigating Chestnut homicides

The home on Chestnut Street where two homicides took place earlier this month. Photo by Andy Sevilla.

Associate Editor

The Hays County District Attorney’s office said this week that it will not comment as it decides whether to press charges in a botched burglary that ended in the shooting deaths of two people.

A third person was severely wounded in an episode at 926 Chestnut Street on the night of Sept. 4, when four teenagers from Luling entered the home through an unlocked kitchen door in search of marijuana.

The one suspect who survived and wasn’t hospitalized, 17-year-old Frank Castro of Luling, was arrested at the scene.

According to the arrest affidavit, Castro told police that the teenagers were attempting to steal marijuana. San Marcos Police Department (SMPD) Chief Howard Williams said Castro told police that a male resident known as “Harry Potter” sold large quantities of “dro,” a higher and more expensive grade of marijuana, out of the home.

Just before 2 a.m. on Sept. 4, police responded to the 900 block of Chestnut Street, where the burglary attempt by four teenagers from Luling resulted in the death of two 16-year-olds and a third 16-year-old transported to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin with serious wounds. One of the teenagers was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other later died at Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC).

The homicides were the second and third in San Marcos within a two-week period. Before then, there hadn’t been a homicide in the city since January 2008.

The teenagers entered the residence through the unlocked kitchen door armed with pellet guns and a Ruger pistol before one of the residents opened fired on the teens with a 40-caliber Glock handgun. Castro fled the scene, but later returned when police arrived.

Williams said the police department “know(s) who Harry Potter is,” but is not confirming nor denying whether one of the three residents present at the time of the burglary is indeed “Harry Potter.”

Williams confirmed that at least one of the home’s former residents is a Texas State student. He said the names of the residents will not be released because they have not been charged with any crimes, adding that the five residents of the single-family home have moved from the house.

“We’re putting all the details together,” Williams said. “We still have several unanswered questions. This is about as serious as it gets. We have two teens dead.”

Williams said he doesn’t anticipated charges being filed against the resident who killed the home intruders, though he cautioned that the decision will be up to the Hays County District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office said it “cannot comment on pending cases.” Williams said “it doesn’t appear” the perpetrators shot any rounds, though, he said, “it appears to be a case of self-defense” from the residents’ standpoint.

In 2007, the state legislature passed a “castle law” allowing people to use whatever means are necessary to protect themselves or their property without civil liability.

Williams would not say how many shots were fired in total, citing the specificity of the matter in an on-going investigation, though he confirmed there was more than one round shot.

“We believe, right now, that we see no criminal investigation on what the resident did,” Williams said. ” … This is a hard case for the people of San Marcos to take. We tend to want to protect our children, and then we have teens involved in a robbery shooting.”

Williams said Castro’s account of events does not correlate with that of the residents, which adds to the perplexities of the case. Williams said large amounts of marijuana were not found in the home, but said that a small “personal stash” was found in a bathroom. Williams said no charges have come about from the marijuana found because it cannot be attributed to a specific individual, due to the location from which it was confiscated.

“It (the marijuana) was in a communal area, if it would have been in someone’s room, then we could file charges,” Williams said. “But it was in a bathroom, so we can’t tie it to anyone.”

Williams said the wounded 16-year-old is in “fairly decent shape” and “doing well” after having surgeries. He said the teenager “had very severe injuries, but not life threatening.” He said the teenager will go through the juvenile court system once he is well and fully convalesced. Once there, a decision will be made as to  whether he will be tried as a juvenile or an adult.

Castro has been charged with aggravated robbery, a first degree felony punishable with five to 99 years or life in jail. Castro remains in Hays County custody with a bond of $50,000.

“Police investigations take a while,” Williams said. “We’re being very serious and thorough, doing everything by the book … We have at least one young man, a 17-year-old, looking at the potential of spending his life in the penitentiary. We want to make sure we do a great job and produce a thorough investigation. We want Mr. Castro to have a fair trial.”

Castro identified the three teenagers involved in the burglary as Rudy Tinoco, John Alvarez, and Jordan Mendez, in the affidavit. Castro told police he was armed with a pellet pistol, Tinoco had the Ruger pistol, and Alvarez carried the pellet rifle, according to the affidavit.

But Williams didn’t specify which teenagers died and which one was hospitalized.

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0 thoughts on “Police still investigating Chestnut homicides

  1. “It (the marijuana) was in a communal area, if it would have been in someone’s room, then we could file charges,” Williams said. “But it was in a bathroom, so we can’t tie it to anyone.”
    Isn’t that bathroom used by the 5 residents of that house? Chances are the marijuana belongs to at least one of the 5.
    If after 2 weeks the SMPD don’t know that, I guess they’ll never know what really happened that night, and case will be closed without any more information released to the public.

  2. If Marijuana were legalized there wouldn’t be two dead, one in the hospital, one going to prison, and the wasteful expense of trial, police investigation, and imprisonment. This post wouldn’t be anonymous either.

  3. Pretty cut and dry here, teens trespass into house with guns and bad intentions, homeowner fires on trespassers. Kudos to the shooter.

  4. These two are not dead because marijuana is illegal; they are dead because they tried to break into someone’s home in the middle of the night. People steal legal items all the time.

  5. It’s unbelievable that charges are not expected for the individual who MURDERED two teens and severely injured a third. This is truly a gross interpretation of what is or should be right. I understand that these teens were up to no good, and wanted to steal marijuana, big deal, they should not have had their life stolen away. There should be charges filed on everybody.
    The DAs office should also let the public know what is happening. I know they cant release details of the case, but at the very least they could state whether they’re pursuing charges, or investigating, say something, anything, not just no comment.

  6. Mr. I See:

    You miss the point.

    These unfortunate teens were not murdered because they simply wanted to steal marijuana (which you state is not a “big deal”).

    They were killed because they entered another’s house in the middle of the night with bad intent and while armed.

    Armed home invasion in the middle of the night is indeed a “big deal” and and can get one shot dead–as we have seen.

  7. I see, self defense is not murder. I guess you didn’t catch the part where they entered a house late at night WITH GUNS! What did you expect him to do, make tea and offer them cookies.

  8. MI: Honestly, you want to charge all 5 residents with possession? Ever get blamed for something you didn’t do?

    Nekkid truth: I find it laughable that you can link this act of self defense to the legalization of marijuana. Regardless of WHY they were there, they were breaking the law. Individuals break into residences on a regular basis to steal legal objects too.

    I See: You need to reacquaint yourself with the definition of MURDER. The bottom line is, they SHOULD NOT have BROKEN INTO anyone else’s residence ARMED with weapons of any kind with the intent to UNLAWFULLY STEAL ANYTHING. I believe you’d be singing a different tune should someone break into your home with a weapon and attempt to take your possessions or harm yourself or your family.

    The bottom line is multiple individuals made a CONSCIOUS decision to commit ARMED ROBBERY and paid the ultimate price.

  9. Hey “I see” let me know where you live and I’ll try that same thing on you and then maybe “You’ll see”. You invade my home and your gonna get hurt or dead. This is not a threat but a warning. Regardless, the resident was not going to stand by and be a victim. The premeditation of robbery and assault is all you need to know.

  10. WAKE UP: I never said all 5 should be charged, but since it’s illegal to have it, then some one must be charged for it.

  11. So because someone was going to steal, granted they were armed with pellet guns, it’s ok to kill them. There are better ways to solve problems like these. If indeed a drug dealer is whose house was broken into, then yeah, it makes perfect sense to protect him or her with a law to murder someone.. That’s ridiculous. Killing someone because of the assumption they’re going to fire a gun at you, is what Austin police has been doing a lot of recently, and look where it has got them.
    I think the resident who murdered the two 16 y.o. should get charged with murder. 2 young lives are lost, because of an assumption. If they were going to kill anyone, they would have before the murderer ever stepped out of his/her bedroom. And if the murderer was indeed fearful for its life, then why come out of the bedroom armed, why not go out your window and call police. He was not under imminent danger. Either way, marijuana was found in the residence, therefore illegal activity was taking place, thus the murderer is not protected under the castle law.

  12. Mr. I See:

    Misstating the facts does not help your case.

    They were not, as you say, armed with pellet guns. Two had pellet guns and one had a real gun. A Ruger, I believe.

    Misunderstanding and/or misstating the castle doctrine does not help your case either.

    Please show us where in the Castle Doctrine it says one waives their right to defend their home from armed invaders if they have marijuana in their house.

  13. I See:
    Are you serious? These 4 individuals unlawfully entered someone’s home in the middle of the night armed, and you say big deal? Also, you keep using the word Murder..the charge of murder is a legal definition that the facts of this case do not fit. (the manner of death was homicide, but that does not always mean the circumstances fit the definition of murder).
    If you read the “Castle Doctrine” section of the penal code you will see that the answers to your questions/statements in your most recent post are addressed by pretty clearly.

  14. Dear Mr./Ms. I See;

    While this entire horrific event does indeed constitute a real tragedy in every sense of the word, and I sense that you may indeed have a personal connection to it somehow, I See that you are indeed viewing it from a different reality than most of us.

  15. I tell you what. If someone entered my house in the middle of the night armed with a water gun that looked real, well im not gonna ask them what kind of gun it is! Is a pellet gun? Is it a Ruger? Is it a water gun? Hell no Im not gonna ask! You have entered my house UNINVITED and you will be shot ! Dead? Who know. But you will be shot. As Anon said. “Kusos to the shooter”

  16. I guess the Legislature has authorized drug dealers to now carry weapons and defend themselves when transaction go wrong in their homes. I think that Patrick Rose and the rest of the Leg needs to amend the Castle Doctrine to exclude drug dealers. Plain and simple. Any one disagree?

  17. My understanding is that the former residents moved out in part because the intruders’ relatives or friends are seeking vengeance. If anyone is to blame for the killings (besides the intruders), its their parents. In theory, these kids had up to 8 parents (not to mention numerous adult relatives and siblings). How is it that none of these kids’ family members were keyed in to what was going on in their lives? Where did the kid get the Ruger and the bullets?

  18. I disagree with you Mr. Sergi. And I’m surprised that this story is motivating your assertion. Where is the evidence that the residents were drug dealers? Anyway, defining who is a “drug dealer” isn’t easy. In this case, its not clear that the shooter was the alleged dealer (alleged by one of the armed intruders and no one else). What if the intruders were after illegally imported orchids or fake IDs instead of drugs? What if they were drug dealers but the thieves were only after their legally purchased jewelry? Does the homeowner need to ask the burglar what they’re there to steal before shooting them? Regardless of their motivation, armed home invaders probably try to take anything they want.

  19. Mr. Sergi,
    The castle doctrine does have an exclusion for “when transactions go bad.” The subsection states the person must not be otherwise engaged in criminal activity other than a class C misdemeanor, etc. So, it would be reasonable to assume the person shooting was not engaged in drug dealing at the time of the incident (and there was not enough evidence to link the small amount of marijuana found with the shooter). Also, the person who fired the shots has not (yet) been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, so that would seem to mean they had not been excluded from ownership by any previous actions they committed as outlined in the Gun Control Act. So, there is not enough evidence to bring charges of possession for the marijuana during the time of incident and no previous convictions prohibiting the ownership of a firearm; but we are to still label the shooter as a drug dealer?

  20. As far as I can tell from this story and looking around elsewhere, the Castle Doctrine only grants civil immunity. That would mean that criminal charges could still be filed.

  21. I extend the last phrase in my previous post to include Mr. Sergi.

    !!!??? Really, are you kidding?

  22. Nobody WANTS this in their neighborhood. This was just a few doors down from where I lived when I was in school here in the ’70s,…and I don’t live far from it now.

    I support any law that protects a person from a “home invasion”, which is what this was. The “reason” for it, in this case is secondary,….although I am not condoning the alleged drug dealing. Certainly however, as we all know,…it could have just as easily been a robbery, a rape attempt, a gang hit,…or any range of violent crimes. We have had similar acts of barbaric violence committed right here in San Marcos in the very recent past,…one in particular where the occupant of the home was killed in his living room, in front of his wife.

    If intruders burst into a home, brandishing weapons,….then I agree with the law that gives a citizen the right to protect him/herself first, and ask questions later.

    This particular case is a sad and tragic occurrence, and has roots that extend deep into the contrasting backgrounds and circumstances of both groups who were irreversibly involved.

    Teens with guns,….is becoming more and more common in San Marcos just recently, and with their characteristic recklessness, lack of understanding, caring, and judgment,….the resultant combination is a deadly mix.

  23. I agree with you Dave. Drugs, young people and guns are a deadly combination. So are cars and alcohol, but we tolerate it in our society. I’m big on 2nd amendment rights, I just wish this example of protecting property didn’t involve quite as many unsavory elements. I’ve you’re gonna break into my house, armed or not, you are making a life choice.

  24. I see:

    I can only assume you’re friends with these kids and heartbroken by the loss. If so, I sympathize.

    Let me make this simple for you. Be sure to share this with all your friends:

    1. If you break into my house FOR ANY REASON AT ANY TIME, I will shoot you.
    2. I will shoot to not to kill or wound, but to stop you.
    3. As long as you are advancing and I have rounds, I will keep shooting.
    4. I will feel bad about it. You will feel worse.

    Now, here’s how we can prevent this from happening:

    1. Don’t you ever break into my house for any reason.

    Easy, huh?
    There. Problem solved.

  25. Yea they went into the house for their marijuana so what.Kids do it all the time. They went in there armed but the guns were on safety. They weren’t gonna shoot nobody it was all for show to scare them people into getting what they wanted. The police said that the guns hadn’t had any shots fired yet, I don’t see why the people in the house started shooting if nothing had happended yet. Those people knew they were coming. They were waiting for them but you know they didn’t break in because the kitchen door was unlocked and like one of the residents in the home said in an interview that they let anybody come in and they’re cool with everybody. It’s just not right for them not to get any charges at all. R.I.P. John & Rudy

  26. “They weren’t gonna shoot nobody it was all for show to scare them people into getting what they wanted.”

    Apparently their “scare” tactic worked TOO well.

    Still it is all very sad.

    The hardest thing to learn in “growing up” is that YOUR actions have consequences. Please learn from this.

  27. You choose to be a burglar, you forfeit your right to complain about getting killed. If you don’t like it, pick another career.

  28. I am shocked by the three commentators so far that seek to minimize the truly criminal behavior of these teens:

    “I understand that these teens were up to no good, and wanted to steal marijuana, big deal, they should not have had their life stolen away.”

    “Yea they went into the house for their marijuana so what. Kids do it all the time.”

    “So because someone was going to steal, granted they were armed with pellet guns, it’s ok to kill them.”


    I don’t know what life is like for these folks or what kind of town they live in but rest assured this crime is the definition of “big deal” here in San Marcos.

    This is not something “kids do all the time” in the real world. In the real world, it’s such a big deal people get shot and killed or life in prison over it.

    Rest assured, if this is normal in your world then the problem is with you and not with us.

    And yes, if they were there to steal, it is ok to kill them. That’s pretty clearly defined as self defense, especially when they are waving guns in your face in your house.

    And fair warning: After two home invasions in a week with lots of carnage involved this town is just a little on edge right now, so if you plan on committing a little “no big deal, so what” home invasion maybe you shouldn’t do it in San Marcos. I’m no gun owner myself but the I can feel the vibe around town. Even the hippies are polishing their guns lately.

  29. In March 2007, Rep. Rose authored HB 284 that provided for use of deadly force which actually results in death may be defended as justifiable homicide under what is called the Castle Doctrine. That bill was substituted for with SB 378 which was authored by Sen. Wentworth, and it became law in September 2007. The first line reads: A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to the use of force or deadly force in defense of a person. It should be noted that the law is not about defense of property but defense of a person legally on certain property, namely a domicile. This sad episode in San Marcos appears to be a matter of alleged local drug dealers now being able to use deadly force (reports are that the intruders were unarmed) to protect against theft of illegal drugs if they are stored in the dealer’s home. My question is that if these teenagers knew the location of these drugs, why didn’t the San Marcos Police or Hays County Sheriff Department know it was there. Maybe they did. Or perhaps there were no drugs and the teens just believed there were illegal drugs in that particular house. It’s doubtful the public will ever know all the facts of this case. As for the Hays County DA’s office, don’t hold your breath about them getting it right if how the DA handled complaints of misuse of county resources by elected officials is any indication of competence or justice. And Rose and Wentworth can cut two more notches in their legal guns.

  30. Doctor O’Dell, you may wish to walk down from your ivory tower, and actually read the articles and realize that your facts are incorrect. The intruders were armed, they entered the home of this individual with firearms (or realistic copies of them), whether they were all real, all fake, or a mix of both is not relevant. They wanted to project an image that they meant business, and the appearance of arms indicates to the average person staring down the barrel that if they do not comply with demands made by the intruders, they will suffer serious bodily harm or death. Now I do not understand why you even bring accusations of drug dealing up, when the police themselves state that they have had no calls to the residence, or intelligence regarding narcotics, the shooter had a clean criminal record which means nothing prevented him from owning arms, and no charges have been filled (yet) that allege the shooter was intending to sell illegal drugs to these ARMED home invaders. It is a sad reality indeed that we need such laws as the Castle Doctrine to FEEL safe, and the private ownership of arms in order to BE safe, but this is the world we live in, and a small number of humans sometimes chose to infringe on the lives, liberty, and property of others and become a part of the parasite class. The 99 percent of my fellow humans that just want to work, live, and love can be trusted to be mostly good with some incidences of carelessness or ignorance, but not intentional malevolence. However the reason my friends and I own arms is for the 1 percent that has no compassion, respect, or love for their fellow man, and there is no amount of logical reasoning that will convince an ARMED home invader at 2AM in your living room, that they are going down the wrong path and need to re-evaluate their lives and actions. I hope I managed to add something to this discussion, and I sincerely apologize if I have detracted from the discussion. My best wishes to the 99 percent of you in the productive class, and I am honored to live with you in this beautiful city, as for the 1 percent that holds nothing but contempt for other humans, on the off chance you may be reading this, knock if you want to be invited into my home, and kick down the door if your life has become too boring or difficult to maintain, I will be happy to help.

  31. Dr. O’Dell,

    Please cite your claim that “reports” were that the invaders were unarmed.

    Your claim is contrary to all I have read and heard about this incident.

  32. According to the article above: “The teenagers entered the residence through the unlocked kitchen door armed with pellet guns and a Ruger pistol before one of the residents opened fired on the teens with a 40-caliber Glock handgun.”

    The article also notes: “San Marcos Police Department (SMPD) Chief Howard Williams said Castro told police that a male resident known as “Harry Potter” sold large quantities of “dro,” a higher and more expensive grade of marijuana, out of the home.”

    Thus, I misspoke about the teenagers being unarmed, didn’t I—but they certainly were out gunned.

    Whether the teenagers were armed or unarmed wasn’t central to my primary point: The Rose and Wentworth bills make drug dealers now legally able to use deadly force to protect against theft of illegal drugs if they are stored in the dealer’s home.

  33. of all the stupid totally sef asorbed crap our local troll has wasted peoples time and bandwidth on this has to be up near the top. Armed intruders are repelled by a gun owning resident but somehow it is all represenative Rose and Sen Whitworths fault. Who pays this guy top make this stuff up ? he is always hollering at the top of his voice about corrupt public officials, but he is the one connected to the local corrupto-crat elite. Liz and Karen are guilty of more than anyone else in this county. Is someone connected to them paying so he will write this stuff to distract everyone from where the real fire is burning ?

    I happen to know friends who knew the residents who were attacked. I also have good frinds who teach in Luling and these were some of her students. This whole thing is a immense tragedy. So many lives that will never be the same again. So much personal hurt that will last for many years to those who were affected. To trivialize this for no other reasons than egotistical gain is the ultimate selfishness. It is a mark of the ultimate lack of character.

  34. You raise an interesting question Andy G. Is Mr. O’Dell paid by the Wimberley newspaper for his blogs that are associated with that publication? Is he really more political consultant than watchdog? There certainly is a bias with respect to the politicians he decides to monitor. Why is this when, as a representative of a non-profit group, he should be equally concerned about all – but has consistently ignored alleged acts of wrong-doing by his “favorite” politicians who he helped get elected. Sounds like a Good Old Boy system to me.

  35. I used to live in this house. It was a GREAT home for college students. I loved my time living there and think it sad such a tragedy happened there. While I don’t wish harm on anyone, how STUPID could these kids be? I would have done the same thing as the resident did. What a waste of a fun house 🙁

  36. Once again, what was the reason for these kids to go to this particular house but not to the one next door or the one down the street? SMPD should investigate if there was ever any drug deals took place at this residence, and whoever sold drugs, especially to teenagers, should be charged.

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